Adrian Metta waves with his fingers spread like flower petals, his round-eyed smile and adoring look at his mother and father as typical as any 11-month-old making sense of the world.
But the last three months of Adrian’s life have been anything but normal for Adrian and his parents, John and Jessica Metta of Hood River.
Adrian underwent cranial vault reconstruction surgery on Sept. 17 at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland. The surgery corrected a birth defect known as craniosyntosis, which affects one in 2,000 infants. Adrian and his twin sister, Cecelia, were born Nov. 14, 2012.
Pajama drive comforts other families
The Mettas are organizing a pajama drive to help other families whose children are undergoing craniosyntosis surgery.
A national organization, Cranio Care Bears, provided the Mettas with sleepwear during Adrian’s hospitalization, and they want to pay back.
New pajamas may be dropped off at Cutie Pie, Fourth and State, and at DelCarpine Automotive, 1405 Barker Road.
A few important details:
n Front zipper or button only — no pullovers — in sizes 3 months to 5T.
n The drive will continue through October.
n Financial donations may go to Cranio Care Bears.
“His face looked a little funny and his head was shaped a little funny, and sometimes kids come out looking that way and it corrects,” Jessica said.
With craniosyntosis, the sutures, or seams, linking skull plates fuse prematurely. (With most people, full fusion takes place around age 20.)
“The only way to fix it is this massive surgery, where they basically reconstruct your skull,” said John.
Adrian’s doctor, Maria Czarnecki of Hood River, caught the problem early and Adrian seems to be making a full recovery.
“He was always rambunctious, and at day four after the surgery, he was just as rambunctious again,” John said.
His parents could immediately see the improved proportions of Adrian’s face and eyes.
Jessica said doctors don’t know what causes craniosyntosis, but there are theories.
“He was born on the bottom, and it’s believed that can have an effect,” Jessica said.
Some people believe it’s because of being “squished,” she said, adding though that singletons can also develop craniosyntosis.
Whatever the cause, early detection was critical.
“Our doctor noted early on that his soft spot was closing, and that can be a trigger that craniosyntosis is happening. It finally closed, and in July she referred us to Doernbecher.
“We are very grateful to Dr. Czarnecki. She was right on it, and often parents have to convince their doctors to diagnose for it,” Jessica said.
“It’s not just cosmetic surgery, because it puts pressure on the brain where it shouldn’t be,” she said. “The skull will grow out elsewhere and it can lead to all kinds of developmental problems and even to blindness.”
Jessica also credited “awesome online support groups,” including Cranio Care Bears, which inspired the Mettas to start a pajama drive for other families (see sidebar).
Jessica said the team of neurosurgeons and plastic surgeons decided to wait until 9-12 months to operate.
“They found it early on, but they we had to wait and that’s the hard part,” Jessica said. The six-hour surgery was on a Tuesday, and Adrian went home that Friday.
“His brain was under more pressure than they thought when they went in, and they were really glad they did it,” John said.