Madeline Smith

Tanya and Rodney Smith couldn’t put their finger on it, but they knew something wasn’t quite right with her six-month-old daughter Madeline.

The couple first began to notice that Madeline’s forehead had a ridge in the centre; they were assured that it would go away in time but when it didn’t Tanya and Rodney pushed for more tests to be done. A subsequent doctor’s visit and an X-ray both confirmed that everything was normal. Still the Smiths’ worries persisted and they asked what further tests could be done; the only other option was for Madeline to have a CT scan. A CT scan comes with exposure to radiation, which was not recommended for children under a year old. Also, young children need to be sedated completely, which also carries risks. With a great deal of apprehension her parents decided to proceed with the scan – it proved to be a life-changing decision.

The scan revealed that Madeline’s skull was fused down the middle; without surgery her skull would not develop properly and could lead to a host of cosmetic, social and neurological issues.

At the young age of nine months Madeline underwent a six-hour surgery. Doctors made an incision over her head from ear to ear, removed the fused piece of her skull and repositioned pieces of it in a different order to “fool” her genetics into reshaping the skull rather than simply growing back in a fused state. Following the successful surgery Madeline’s face swelled to the point that her eyes couldn’t open and she was unable to see for two days. She also became lethargic and extremely pale. Doctors decided to give her a blood transfusion. Thankfully, shortly after, Madeline’s spirits lifted and she began to show signs of healing. Within a week, the family was able to head home to Vancouver Island. A year after the surgery Madeline’s hair had grown in and today her scars are barely visible. She is now four years old, has been given a clean bill of health and goes to BC Children’s annually for checkups.

Tanya calls the care they received at the hospital “over the top.” She is forever thankful for the phenomenal doctors and nurses at BC Children’s who looked after Madeline and her family with such great care and compassion.