Girl, three, has her skull REBUILT in a nine-hour operation after being diagnosed with a rare bone condition which left her needing a ‘new head’
- Ava Carlin had skull built from the bottom of her forehead to back of her head
- The bones on one side of her head had fused together inside the womb
- Bones in Ava’s head were broken into pieces and reconstructed by surgeons
A toddler had her skull rebuilt after a rare condition caused her skull to become deformed in the womb.
Ava Carlin, three, underwent surgery to rebuild her skull from the bottom of her forehead to the back of her head after she was born with a rare condition.
The bones on one side of her head had fused together inside the womb and left untreated could have left her with brain damage.
During a nine-and-a-half hour operation, the bones in Ava’s head were broken into pieces and reconstructed by surgeons.
Her parents, Jenna and Matthew Carlin, waited until she had recovered from the condition before celebrating by tying the knot in April this year.
Ava Carlin was given a ‘new head’ after being diagnosed with a skull condition. The bones on one side of her head fused together inside the womb and may have left her with brain damage
She celebrated her recovery by becoming a flower girl at her parents wedding
The couple, who are also parents to Luca, seven, became husband and wife during a ceremony at Le Petit Château in Otterburn, Northumberland, with Ava as their flower girl.
Jenna, 31, from Stockton-on-Tees, said: ‘We joke about her having a new head.
‘Ava just thinks it’s funny and makes a joke about it.
‘We celebrate the anniversary of her operation and she asks, ‘Is it my heads birthday yet?’
‘She gets one extra day as well as her birthday.
‘We waited until she was fit and well before we got married, it was something for us to look forward to.
‘We said ‘mum is going to be a princess, do you want to be a princess too?’
‘She was absolutely amazing, she was a little angel.’
Jenna and Matthew, 35, a company directory, were concerned about the shape of Ava’s skull following her birth in December 2015.
WHAT IS CRANIOSYNOSTOSIS?
Craniosynostosis is a rare skull problem that causes a baby to be born with, or develop, an abnormally shaped head.
It is rare, affecting an estimated one in every 1,800 to 3,000 children. Three out of every four cases affect boys.
The irregular skull shape in craniosynostosis can cause persistent headaches, learning difficulties, eye problems and other symptoms.
Craniosynostosis is the result of the premature fusion of different sections of the skull.
This means the skull is unable to grow in affected areas.
When one area of the skull is prevented from growing, other areas may ‘overgrow’ to compensate and limit the pressure developing around the brain.
She said: ‘After she was born her head looked a bit squashed. I was told that it was just the way she was lying in my womb and she would even out.
‘At the six week health visitor appointment she wasn’t moving her neck. The health visitor referred us to a neck physio.
‘They said she could have a condition where her skull is fused but it’s probably not, it’s probably how she’s been lying.
‘When I was looking at her one of her eyes was a circle and the other eye looked oval.
‘One side of her forehead was pulled back. It looked like she had a lump sticking out on her forehead.’
Ava was diagnosed with Craniosynostosis – a rare condition where a baby’s skull doesn’t grow properly and their head becomes an unusual shape.
They were told that she would have to undergo surgery at 18 months old to break up her skull as it could prevent the brain from growing properly.
Jenna, who works as a data and funding administrator, said: ‘They said it wouldn’t affect her before she was 18 months old in any other way apart from cosmetically.
‘But if she didn’t have the operation then it pressure would be put on the brain, which could have left her with brain damage.’
When Ava reached 18 months, in June 12, 2017, she underwent the operation on her skull.
Two years on, Ava has now made a full recovery.
Jenna said: ‘After the surgery she didn’t look like we were expecting.
‘There was a lot of swelling and it took two years for that to go down and for her to grow into her new skull.
‘Now you wouldn’t even know that she had had an operation.’