Mom cries for 5 months seeing balloon-like sac on baby’s face—after 9-hr surgery, he’s stunning

A mom could only see her son’s face for four months after his birth. When the baby was born, a massive growth almost covered his entire face because of a congenital problem in his skull. After a complicated surgery and reconstruction of his face, the baby’s cute face was finally revealed.

When Valeka Riegel gave birth to her son, Zakary, she was devastated to see a growth on her newborn baby’s face.

“The growth covered (his face) from his nose to his mouth and when you looked at him as a baby, all you saw was a little mouth,” Riegel, a surgical nurse from Toledo, Ohio, said in an interview.

Zakary had an encephalocele, a rare congenital defect in his skull that produced a balloon-like sac full of fluid and even brain tissue, which developed in his forehead.

©YouTube Screenshot | Cincinnati Children’s

To survive, Zakary needed surgery to treat the problems causing the massive growth. However, he had to wait until he was over 15 pounds (approx. 7 kg) to be able to undergo the surgery. So, he stayed in the NICU for 128 days, and his mom stayed by his bedside for most of the time.

“For five months, I cried, became angered, fearful…” Riegel, now a mother of three, wrote in an open letter to her baby son.

©YouTube Screenshot | Cincinnati Children’s

Pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Stevenson led the team to do the surgery. They not only had to successfully operate on little Zakary to ensure his survival, but also had to make sure he would have a chance to develop normally in the future.

“There were several steps involved, including exposing the forehead, exposing the defect, amputating all that tissue, and then reconstructing a normal brain, and then reconstructing all of the normal layers or barriers which had formed a [sic] the time of development,” Stevenson told ABC News.

©YouTube Screenshot | Cincinnati Children’s

Then, plastic surgeon Dr. Brian Pan helped work on the complex reconstruction of little Zakary’s face.

“I knew how complicated this was emotionally, physically and medically,” Riegel said.

©YouTube Screenshot | Cincinnati Children’s

After nine hours of hard work, Dr. Stevenson walked out of the operating room. “He said to me, ‘He doesn’t look like Zakary, but he still has the same beautiful smile,’” Riegel recalled. “‘Just look at his smile and you will see Zakary, I promise you.’”

“The first thing he did after extubation was smile, and 23 hours later he was out of the pediatric ICU,” Riegel added.

©YouTube Screenshot | Cincinnati Children’s

Zakary has just celebrated his first birthday last December. He started to crawl and interact well with other children.

“He seems to be attaining milestones in a time frame we would expect,” Stevenson said.

Watch the video below:

Recommended Video

Toddler feeds corgis

 
Have You Heard About This?

Syrian sisters reach out to the world from ‘hell on Earth’—and they’re not the only ones

Syrian sisters reach out to the world from ‘hell on Earth’—and they’re not the only ones
Among the thousands of innocent civilians who have been caught up in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's ferocious siege ...
READ MORE >
 
Top Hot
Homeless man finds diamond ring in his cup. Then, his unexpected move changes his life forever
Can you believe this homeless man in Missouri has made a complete 180-degree turn in his life—all because ...
READ MORE >
Arizona woman finds hidden note in new purse—when she translates it, her heart sinks
Arizona woman finds hidden note in new purse—when she translates it, her heart sinks
The first thing that we may do when opening a new bag or purse would be to throw ...
READ MORE >
Dad & newborn stranded after airline denies boarding—but then, NICU ‘angel’ comes to rescue
A father had just flown four hours to pick up his newborn, but was denied boarding on the ...
READ MORE >
 
 
Story of Conviction
I was a teacher by day but shamelessly indulged in drink and lust at night with no end ...
READ MORE >
Le Thi Thanh Thai was just 13 when she discovered she had heart disease. To understand her illness ...
READ MORE >
 
RELATED