Something to Smile About: Surgeons Fashion a New Face for a Young Boy

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When Kyle Johnson was born, he was diagnosed with Apert syndrome, a rare genetic mutation that affects fewer than 65 of the roughly 4 million babies born each year in the US. For unknown reasons, a single gene in the sperm becomes damaged, generating a series of developmental miscues. The bony plates of Kyle's skull, which would normally remain separate until about 18 months, had fused before birth. The middle of his face was sunken, interfering with his breathing and eye muscles. His shoulder blades fused together over his spine, preventing him from raising his arms over his head.
Multiple corrective surgeries would be required. After meeting with numerous surgeons at various institutions, the Johnsons settled on Joseph McCarthy, MD, the Helen L. Kimmel Professor of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery and Lawrence D. Bell Professor of Plastic Surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center, and former director of the Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery.
Dr. McCarthy drew up a long-term plan that called for more than a dozen operations. Watch this video to learn more about Kyle's journey, and read the full story in the July/August 2013 issue of News&Views.