A mum whose baby was born with hundreds of cysts covering the lower half of his face said she dreams of the day she will hear her son cry for the first time.
Victoria Silvestri, 27, discovered her son Gavin had developed hundreds of cysts in his cheeks, chin, lips and neck during a scan when she was 18 weeks pregnant.
The abnormal growth, called cystic hygroma, also meant cysts had formed around his trachea in the womb, meaning that his airways would be compromised after birth.
Victoria, a teacher, was scheduled for a caesarian section on February 8 but went into labour seven days early when her college basketball coach husband Joe Silvestri, 27, was out of state at an away game.
To secure Gavin’s airways, the baby was intubated during Victoria’s c-section while he was still connected to the oxygen supply from the placenta, as Joe watched the birth on Facetime.
Victoria briefly saw her newborn before he was transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, Florida, where he has remained for the past three months.
Soon after his birth, Gavin began regular sclerotherapy, a procedure which involves draining the cyst’s fluid and injecting a solution which kills the fluid-producing cells.
After two months of treatment, the baby underwent a seven-hour surgery to remove dead tissue from Gavin’s face and neck which was a huge success.
Although the tot has a long road ahead of him, Victoria said she feels hopeful that she will hear her son laugh and cry for the first time in the near future.
Because he has an endotracheal tube – a type of breathing device to stabilize his airway – he is currently unable to do so.
The brave mum said: “While I was in delivery there were about 30 doctors and nurses in the room. I felt like I was on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
“Although it was high risk, everything went as it was supposed to go.
“When I saw him, I wasn’t shocked. I had prepared myself from the moment I found out Gavin had this condition.
“All I saw was my baby.
“He’s been in the NICU since he was born and it hasn’t been easy.
“A lot of moms take for granted bringing home a newborn.
“It can be hard when people talk about the sleepless nights with a crying baby because I have never once heard Gavin cry, because he can’t.
“He tries, but he can’t. We take it day by day but it will be special when he laughs or when I hear him cry.”
Gavin’s medical team are currently waiting for the tot’s ear-to-ear incision to heal before they decide the next course of action.
Although Gavin will have to undergo more sclerotherapy and surgery in the future to address the cysts that remain, his parents hope that he will be well enough to be fitted with a trach so he may finally be able to come home in June.
“I was amazed at the difference in Gavin after the surgery.
“Our main focus right now is getting his incision healed but hopefully he can be fitted with a trach which would maybe allow us to take him home for the first time.
“I can’t wait. I go home for a few hours every so often and I go into his room and I just can’t wait for him to be in it.
“Everything is here and ready for him.”
Although life in the NICU can be tough, Victoria said Gavin amazes her every day.
“He’s such a little warrior, it’s amazing. He’s such a calm baby, and he’s not at all fussy.”
“I was lucky to meet a mom who had a baby with the same thing as Gavin a few months ago and he was thriving. It gives me hope.
“Although we are taking each day as it comes, it will be wonderful to get back to our lives with our wonderful baby.”