A five-year-old little boy recently underwent a major surgery in which surgeons rebuilt his skull like a jigsaw puzzle to stop it from crushing his brain.
When Leo Hutchinson’s mom was 20 weeks pregnant with him, medical professionals determined through an ultrasound that Leo’s head was growing larger than most babies at that point in their development.
Georgia Hutchinson says that doctors weren’t alarmed by the rapid growth of her unborn child’s head and just kept a close eye on her until Leo was born.
After making his grand entrance into the world, Leo was checked by a pediatrician who sent the baby boy and his mom home.
It wasn’t until a few months later when Leo wasn’t hitting certain milestones that Georgia detected something was wrong.
“Motherly instinct told me something wasn’t right,” Georgia said. “I told the health visitor and she referred us to St David’s Hospital in Canton. They said there was a 98% chance that he had the condition. The soft spot in the middle of his head had already been fused.”
The condition was confirmed as sagittal craniosynostosis, which causes a skull to fuse permanently and crush parts of the brain. Without surgery, Leo could have gone blind or suffered severe brain damage.
At seven-and-a-half months old, Leo underwent his first surgery.
“They basically took every bit of his skull out, cut it all up into pieces, put holes and slits in it and put it back together,” Georgia explained. “They took his forehead out and flipped it upside down and put it back in.
“It was an awful thing for my first child to go through.”
Fortunately, Leo started making incredible progress and within months could sit up and crawl.
Everything was progressing along for a span of two years and that’s when Leo took a turn for the worst.
“At Christmas time in 2014, he was complaining of headaches,” Georgia said. “He would have a headache, he would fall asleep then it would get better. This was a constant cycle.”
Leo was taken in for evaluation and a scan showed that the little boy was experiencing swelling of the optic nerve and severe pressure on his brain.
The family had to plan another operation with medical specialists, but this one was different than the surgery Leo underwent a few years earlier.
“In the first operation Leo was too young to remember anything, but this time it was harder for him as he was much older,” Georgia explained.
“This time, instead of taking the skull out they inserted two sliders on each side of his skull. It was then my job to turn these sliders with a special key – once in the morning and once in the night – to relieve any press on his brain.”
Georgia did this for 28 days until the screws were removed.
Leo is making “amazing progress” and has fully bounced back.
He attends school and is a doting big brother to his younger siblings.