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Still a Happy Child

Every mother thinks her baby is the most beautiful infant in the world, and Olivia Walsh was no exception. When she was born in March 2008, her mother, Elaine, adored her, but she noticed that something about the shape of her daughter’s head was not quite right. Because she was born by C-section, Olivia was not expected to have the "pointed" head that many babies have following a vaginal birth. And over time, there seemed to be a ridge running vertically up her forehead.

“Everyone said her head looked fine, but I thought it didn’t look like it should be that may,” said Mrs. Walsh. Imaging tests ordered by her pediatrician were inconclusive, but an MRI confirmed the diagnosis: metopic craniosynostosis, in which the two bones making up the forehead fuse prematurely.

Elaine and her husband, Kelly, were referred to Dr. Mark Souweidane and the team at the Pediatric Craniofacial Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, where Olivia would undergo skull surgery to open the suture and remodel the orbital bridge of her face — all when she was just six months old.

“Olivia was such a happy baby, and I wondered if she would still have the same sweet personality after such an operation,” Mrs. Walsh recalled. “Dr. Souweidane was very easy-going and gentle, and we felt relieved when he explained everything to us very clearly.”

So on October 10, 2008, the Walshes brought their only daughter into the operating room, reassured by the confidence and compassion of the surgical team. Olivia endured the six-hour surgery well and was back at her home in Brooklyn three days later.

Although the incision spanned the top of her head from ear to ear, today she has no visible scars. But most important to her parents, today Olivia is the same vivacious little girl she always was, who loves to sing and flip through picture books. “When you have something this difficult and traumatic to go through, you have to be really confident in your doctors,” concluded Mrs. Walsh. “And we were.”