Parents look forward to ultrasound appointments to find out the gender of their baby. Doctors on the other hand are looking for things like a healthy placenta, normal heartbeat, and that the fetus is growing normally. This is the time where red flags or abnormalities in the baby will often arise. Doctors will take the information they receive from the ultrasound and decide whether or not further tests are required. This visit quickly turns into a nightmare for parents when they are informed something is wrong. Mark and Mary Gundrum already had seven healthy children at home when they found out they were expecting their 8th. As soon as they found out they were having a boy, they named him Dominic. Along with the happy news the couple also received a devastating prognosis about their son. They believed the power of prayer and science was the answer to help their boy beat the odds.The mother of five girls and two boys was looking forward to finding out the gender of her baby. But at 20 weeks of gestation she was told terrifying news. Her baby had encephalocele, a rare disorder where part of the brain was outside the skull, covered in skin.
Doctors warned Mary and Mark that their baby would only live for a couple of hours.
They found Dr. John Meara, plastic surgeon-in-chief at Boston Children’s Hospital. They sent him Dominic’s ultrasound. Within 24 hours, Dr. Meara called them back and assured them everything would be ok.
“There was the encephalocele, and there was the Tessier facial cleft, in which the two halves of his head and face never came together,” explains Dr. Meara.
The medical team removed the encephalocele, closed the skull, fuse the features together, and repaired the Tessier cleft.
“I had a lot of sleepless nights because so many things can go wrong in a case like this,” explains Dr. Meara.
Good samaritans provided the family with home cooked meals and housing.
Mary says they are forever indebted to Dr. Meara because he always believed Dominic’s life was worth saving.
“As beautiful as his new face is, you mourn the loss of the person you knew,” explains Mary.
“The day Dominic was born, a group of friends had a tree planted in our yard in his honour. I remember thinking, 10 years from now, I’m either going to look at that tree and think of the son I lost, or watch him climb its branches,” says Mark. “Right now, thanks to so many wonderful people at Boston Children’s and beyond, I’m excited to watch him hanging from that tree as they both grow bigger and stronger.”
“I plan on following Dominic pretty much forever,” promises Dr. Meara.