Six years later, boy born with tumor bigger than his head is healthy and empathetic

By Dave Andrusko

Kaito Kryvenchuk

How appropriate. During the Christmas season when untold numbers of us will watch the new (or the old) version of “Miracle on 34th Street,” the Canadian newspaper, the Star, should publish a story about the “Miracle on University Avenue.”

The miracle is Kaito Kryvenchuk, now a rambunctious, energetic six-year-old who was born with a tumor larger than his head!

His miraculous journey began in 2011 when doctors told his parents Charles Kryvenchuk and Tamami Suzuki, an ultrasound revealed that Kaito had a cervical teratoma—a “noncancerous mass on the side of his neck and head would eventually grow to 0.68 kilograms — a fifth of Kaito’s weight when he was a newborn, large enough to make it impossible for him to breathe,” according to Emma McIntosh.

The only option the obstetrician offered was abortion: Canadian hospitals didn’t perform such operations. McIntosh writes

Suzuki and Kryvenchuk went home devastated. After some discussion the pair decided to give their baby a chance.

“It’s the hardest conversation you’ll ever have,” Kryvenchuk said.

But the couple, then living in Ottawa, were made of sterner stuff and decided they’d do their own research and look for other opinions. The dad discovered in talking to professionals at the famed Boston’s Children’s Hospital that they knew of a way to deliver a baby like Kaito

Kryvenchuk soon connected with surgeons at Toronto’s Mt. Sinai Hospital, who agreed to do the procedure. A specialized team at Sick Kids, across the street on University Ave., signed on to remove the tumour.

Kaito was born on Aug. 5, 2011.

McIntosh explains in detail the incredibly precise and taxing surgery that lasted six hours to remove the mass that grew from the side of Kaito’s neck, and was so large it bumped into his ear canal.

McIntosh explains that the Star wrote about the baby’s first Christmas in 2011, nicknaming him the “miracle on University Avenue.”

The lone leftover from the tumor and the surgery is a “scar and nerve damage making him unable to smile or blink on the left side of his face.” But the family is continuing with surgeries “to fully animate the left side of his face.”

In one of the touching portions of the story McIntosh explains how the ordeal of multiple surgeries has instilled a great empathy in Kaito, the kind that leads him to be “the first to comfort crying classmates or stand up when someone cuts in line — kindness his parents take pride in.”

That pain, however, has also given the 6-year-old the ability to empathize deeply with those who are hurting, said Kryvenchuk. Kaito is the first to comfort crying classmates or stand up when someone cuts in line — kindness his parents take pride in. ‘He cares about other kids,’ Suzuki said.”

This lovely story ends with Kryvenchuk explaining how he

also found comfort in a Facebook group, “Babies Born With Cervical Teratoma,” where he could seek advice and success stories.

Kryvenchuk said he wants other parents facing the same challenge to know they’re not alone, and there’s hope for their families. After all, he said, just look at Kaito.

“Everything just fell into place.”