A 2-year-old girl from Ecuador who was born with a rare facial deformity is undergoing life-changing surgery here, thanks to the charity of Stony Brook Medicine and Alexander B. Dagum, MD, chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery.
Samanta Angelina ("Angie") Barreto was born with a rare facial cleft that left her very disfigured. Back in Ecuador, her family didn't think anything could be done. But Blanca's House, a nonprofit group that provides free medical care, brought Angie to Long Island for help.
Dr. Dagum and his team have already begun working to repair Angie's facial cleft. The first procedure was done last week. In several weeks, he will continue the staged treatment and reconfigure her facial structure.
"The type of cleft that Angie has occurs in less than one in 100,000 children," estimates Dr. Dagum, who has traveled around the world and to many third world countries to treat children with many forms of clefts.
Angie's mother says she is very happy that in a few years all of this ordeal
will be behind her daughter, and that Angie will have a bright future.
"Dr. Dagum is the backbone of this adventure; without him this wouldn't be happening!" says Kerry O'Sullivan, RN, a volunteer coordinator at Blanca's House, who opened her home to Angie and her mother, Samanta, for their sojourn here.
Dr. Dagum will ultimately bring Angie's eye upward and nose down to correct the cleft and her appearance. During the first procedure, he inserted a balloon-type device called a tissue expander within Angie's face to expand her skin. This first procedure will create new skin.
Dr. Dagum estimates that sometime in mid-August, Angie will be ready for the second procedure. During this reconstructive process, he will use the new skin, along with bone grafting, to complete the corrective procedure.
Because of the severity of Angie's condition, the procedures represent a significant educational opportunity for medical trainees and veteran plastic surgeons, which qualifies it as a teaching case through the Stony Brook School of Medicine.
Click here to read about Dr. Dagum's "community service" work in Ecuador as a member of our second medical mission there. Watch this video clip (2:07 min) of News 12 Long Island's coverage of Angie's story: