Anderson Destine is only nine months old, but he has already received a second chance at life.
The Haitian boy was born with a large skull defect that extended all the way into the nasal cavity, creating a large sac in his face composed of fluid buildup and some herniation of the brain. On June 26, Baptist Health South Florida surgeons performed a life-altering procedure that removed the facial defect.
“Saving his life is an absolute wonderful thing,” says Vitaly Siomin, M.D ., neurosurgeon and medical director of the Brain Tumor Program at Baptist Health Neuroscience Center. “It is an opportunity and it’s a privilege.”
(Video: The Baptist Health South Florida News Team presents the remarkable story of Baby Anderson, hearing from neurosurgeon Vitaly Siomin, M.D., about the challenges of the boy’s surgery. Video by Alcyene C. de Almeida Rodrigues and George Carvalho.)
Baby Anderson was born on October 11, 2016, in the town of Leogane, Haiti. Soon after birth, his mother Judith Destine noticed a small mass on the nose area, and she knew then that something was wrong.
She started looking for any American in Haiti who could help her child. Eventually, the picture of Baby Anderson was emailed to a Baptist Health’s vice president of medical affairs, Mark J. Hauser, M.D., who was touched by the baby’s plight and contacted Calvin Babcock, chairman of the board of Baptist Hospital and CFO of Living Hope Haiti Christian Mission .
The non-profit organization was founded in 2002 by Rev. Dr. Gueillant Dorcinvil and Mr. Babcock. The mission helps people in Haiti, mostly in Saint-Michel-de-l’Attalaye. The organization has built five schools, four churches, an orphanage, a guest house, a medical clinic and a visiting surgical program.
“Every three months, Baptist Health brings a medical team to Port-au-Prince,” says Linda Dwyer, patient coordinator for Living Hope Haiti. “And they do about sixty surgeries in about three or four days. That’s really quite miraculous; they’re a tremendous team.”
When the medical team is faced with cases that are too complex to be treated in Haiti, the patient is brought back to the United States, as in Baby Anderson’s case.
The Challenges of Baby Anderson’s Surgery
“There are two problems associated with this mass,” clarifies Dr. Siomin,  “Problem number one is that portions of his frontal lobes are not very well developed. The second problem is that the sac is so big that it interferes with normal movements of the head. We believe that in one of his eyes, the vision is almost completely lost”.
Dr. Siomin explains that cases require the help of a large team involving “an anesthesiologist in the room … a plastic surgeon, myself and other specialists. We’ll have surgical techs, and we’ll have anesthesia techs. There’s probably going to be maybe ten people in the room at every given moment.”
The first surgery took place at Baptist Hospital on June 26, 2017, and a follow-up procedure was performed on July 12 to install a permanent device called a shunt, which will assist Baby Anderson in the draining of fluids from the affected area.
Arrangements are being made for Anderson to connect with a hospital in Haiti to follow through with his care. Baptist Health plastic surgeon Jaime Ivan Flores, M.D. , was involved with the initial surgery to reconstruct his face and skull and will also volunteer his services to reconstruct his nose in the future. Meanwhile, Anderson’s father, Makeson Destine, and five-year-old sister, Judiemarlie, are looking forward to getting their mother and baby Anderson back in Haiti.
When talking about Baby Anderson’s future before the initial surgery, Ms. Dwyer, the Living Hope Haiti coordinator, starts to tear up. “Anderson is the happiest baby in the world. He is such a sweet happy baby, and he doesn’t know what’s about to happen. Baptist is going to save his life, and how cool is that?” she says.
“I can only thank everyone,” says Judith Destine, Baby Anderson’s mother. “Calvin (Babcock) and his group, Linda (Dwyer), Toni (Garner) and her team, and Baptist Hospital, for everything they are doing for me and my baby.”