Blood drive helps baby who needs skull surgery

Published 12:12 am Saturday, November 4, 2017

LAPLACE — When Monique McGhee-Duronslet, owner of ZoraChristina Cafe and Catering, noticed her infant son lying too much on one side and tilting his head to the right, she started searching for answers.

She and her husband, St. John the Baptist Sheriff’s Office Deputy Michael Duronslet, took little Dominic to physical therapy for three months to strengthen his neck muscles, but they didn’t know the extent of their child’s condition until they consulted a plastic surgeon.

Upon further examination, 8 ½ month old Dominic was diagnosed with lambdoid synostosis, a premature closing of the soft spot of his skull. His brain shifted to the right to compensate, causing his head to tilt.

Doctors told Monique premature fusing of the skull isn’t uncommon in infants, but Dominic happens to have a rare form of the condition.

To ensure Dominic continues to develop on a typical and developmentally appropriate timeline, he will soon undergo a major surgery involving removal and reconstruction of the back and sides of his skull.

The procedure requires a blood transfusion, and Dominic needs the support of the community.

The St. John Sheriff’s Office and Ochsner Blood Mobile will host a blood drive in support of Dominic from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday. People of all blood types are welcome to donate.

Even if a blood sample isn’t compatible to help Dominic, it will still go into Ochsner Blood Bank’s inventory shelves and be used to save lives, according to Corporate Donor Recruiter Leslie Connor.

It’s important to stay hydrated and eat a hearty meal before and after donating blood, Connor said.

Strenuous upper body exercise should be avoided for several hours following blood collection, but individuals who donate are otherwise free to continue daily routines.

Connor said one must be at least 17 years old and 110 pounds to be eligible to donate.

Monique recently held a lunch benefit at ZoraChristina Cafe and Catering, from which 50 percent of proceeds will be used to cover Dominic’s surgical procedures.

She is grateful to have discovered the condition before Dominic’s first birthday, noting treatment is risky in children older than 12 months.

However, since it took months to get a diagnosis, Monique feels it’s important for more people to know about lambdoid synostosis and other forms of premature skull fusion in infants.

“I just want everyone to be aware of these conditions because I wasn’t,” Monique said. “I researched and found it could be a problem when he was lying on one side too much. I want parents to be more observant.”

Even with his head tilt and impending surgery, Dominic remains a bright and happy child, greeting customers with a smile every day at his mother’s restaurant.

“That’s what Dominic does,” Monique said. “He gives people smiles to brighten their day.”