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Tufts University School of Medicine

The Baby Needed Surgery ASAP. Then a Pandemic Got in the Way

The surgery to correct the rare condition, which can cause dangerous breathing problems, has only been completed about ten times on children in their first months of life. Photo: Shutterstock
Tuesday, May 19, 2020 - 8:00pm

No one expected the baby to be born with a rare condition that prevented her from breathing through her tiny nose, making eating and sleeping dangerous. And six months later—after her mother had learned to feed her with a dropper, like a little bird; after repeated trips back to the hospital—no one expected that the surgery to help her would be jeopardized by a worldwide pandemic.

Two Tufts doctors—a physician and a dentist—raced against time and circumstance to ensure that an acrylic device, not much larger than a quarter, would be ready for the baby’s operation. That device would be the key to letting the infant girl breathe freely.

“I’m proud that we did right by her,” said the child’s doctor, Andrew Scott, a pediatric ear, nose, and throat surgeon at Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center and an associate professor of otolaryngology and pediatrics at Tufts School of Medicine. “It was a great example of thoughtful and practical collaboration—and of being able to do something when so many of us felt powerless.”

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