Mom Stunned When She Sees Her Newborn For The First Time, Breaks Down When Shes See Him After Surgery

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In an inspiring journey of hope, Oak Harbor, Ohio resident Valeka Riegel’s son, Zakary, triumphed over a rare birth defect. Initially believed to be a facial cyst, an ultrasound during Riegel’s fifth month of pregnancy revealed a more serious condition—an encephalocele. Riegel, sharing her emotional discovery of Zakary’s face without the mass, exclaimed, “I just cried because I didn’t know he had such beautiful long eyelashes and big brown eyes. They were perfect on both sides.”

At Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, a team of 22 doctors faced the rare case. Zakary’s birth, via cesarean section in December 2016, defied survival concerns. In the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, a specially designed sling supported Zakary until a transformative surgery in April 2017. Dr. Charles Stevenson, Zak’s pediatric neurosurgeon, highlighted the complexity: “We needed to rebuild it according to its intended form.”

Dr. Brian Pan, a pediatric plastic surgeon, emphasized Zakary’s condition’s rarity. Post-surgery, rigorous testing on the extra tissue brought benign results. A week later, Zakary left the hospital, undergoing a remarkable transformation. Despite developmental delays, Zakary thrives today, with doctors optimistic about his future. Riegel’s unwavering love and the medical team’s expertise stand as a testament to hope.

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