By Fr. Mark Hodges
TORONTO, CANADA– Medical experts insisted abortion was the only option for horribly deformed Kaito Kryvenchuk.
A 17-week ultrasound revealed he had a massive tumor larger than his head, attached to his neck and jaw up to his ear. He literally looked like he had two heads.
Not only was the benign tumor life-threatening because of its size, but accompanying disabilities were unpredictable. The mass was so large that the boy would not be able to breathe. Only one in 50,000 babies with similar tumors even survive.
The obstetrician said Canadian hospitals simply do not do such births. Doctors told Kaito’s parents Charles and Tamami it was best and most compassionate to abort him and just try again for a viable child.
“Your emotions are running through the roof,” Charles later shared. “What do you say when you’re told your baby has to be terminated?”
But as the Toronto Star gleefully reports, the couple decided to give their son a chance.
First, Charles and his wife said “no” to abortion.
“We decided we couldn’t live with ourselves terminating the life we created, not knowing whether we terminated a baby that would have been fine,” Charles said as Tamami agreed.
Secondly, they named their tiny boy, so as to personalize “some(one) to fight for.” The couple chose the name “Kaito,” Japanese for “strong warrior.”
Charles began researching cervical teratoma, and found out from Boston Children’s Hospital that birth was possible if surgeons used a rare, special procedure called EXIT (ex utero intrapartum treatment). The procedure consists of a Caesarean section but delaying cutting the umbilical cord, so the baby has oxygen while the doctor opens an alternative airway.
Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital staff agreed to try the EXIT birth surgery. Over a dozen specialists from Sick Kids Hospital across from Mt. Sinai on University Avenue teamed up to remove Kaito’s tumor.
On August 5, 2011, Mount Sinai successfully delivered Kaito. Mount Sinai’s head of fetal medicine, Dr. Greg Ryan, quickly established an alternate airway through Kaito’s trachea. The whole delicate procedure took only about seven minutes, from Kaito’s delivery to his being able to breathe and cutting his umbilical cord.
Just days later, doctors at Sick Kids operated to remove his massive tumor.
The surgery, led by Dr. Paolo Campisi, took six hours under immense pressure to save the seven-and-a-half pound boy.
The tumor was a pound and a half, twenty percent of Kaito’s entire body weight.
“The main risk was blood loss and injury to nerves,’’ Dr. Campisi explained.
The specialists tied off every single one of Kaito’s tiny veins, “one by one,” as ear, nose and throat surgeons, plastic surgeons, a nerve specialist, anesthetists and nurses sought to extradite the growth. Campisi added that the operation “was quite painstaking.” Plastic surgeons also reconstructed Kaito’s ear lobe.
Kaito – and all the specialists – made it through surgery just fine. The Toronto Star dubbed Kaito “the miracle on University Avenue.”
Today, Kaito is an active, fully healthy and very happy six-year-old kid.
“He’s a fast runner, he loves math, he loves games, he loves being competitive,” his proud father says.
The only telltale sign of Kaito’s life-and-death ordeal is a scar and a lack of animation on the left side of his face, giving him a crooked smile and an incomplete blink. The first grader has returned to Sick Kids Hospital thrice to improve his left cheek muscles with tissue taken from his thigh and lower leg and blood vessels from his arm.
And Kaito’s parents say the boy’s painful trials have taught him a deep sense of empathy. Charles describes his son as the first to comfort peers.
“He cares about other kids,” Tamami said.
Emma McIntosh and Valerie Hauch of the Toronto Star report that Kaito’s parents are deeply grateful to both Mount Sinai and Sick Kids hospitals, but their pride and joy is Kaito himself.
“He’s the champ, he was the one who fought to come to term, he’s the one who fought after the surgery to stay alive . . . he fought and he fought and he fought — he is his name,’’ Charles beamed.
“I can’t think of life without him,” he added.
The only inaccuracy in the Toronto Star’s inspiring coverage of Kaito’s ordeal is an opening declaration that preborn “Kaito Kryvenchuk almost didn’t exist,” because he could have been aborted. (As if only a visible person outside the womb actually exists.) Pro-lifers know better.
Kaito certainly has lived up to his name, “strong warrior.” And in this instance, Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital, named after the place where God Almighty revealed His glory, lived up to its namesake.
Editor’s note. This appeared at LifeSite News and is reposted with permission.