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First Strip Craniectomy performed in Southwest Florida at Golisano

Posted at 10:36 PM, Feb 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-10 16:02:14-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Instead of driving hours to Tampa or Orlando, one Fort Myers family was able to stay right here in Fort Myers for their infant's brain surgery at Golisano's Children's Hospital.

It was the first of its kind at Golisano. Doctors told Fox 4's Yvette Sanchez that while the surgery is common for infants, a strip craniectomy isn't performed everywhere.

The Labelle family said that while the process was tough, being close to homemade the recovery process easier for their 5-month-old son Stetson.

"So we weren't in an unknown place, unknown town, hours away from family, anything like that," said Mackenzie Labelle. "That helped a lot with the surgery and recovery process."

She and her husband Jared said they're thankful to be the first family for this procedure for Stetson, only 3 months old at the time.

The Labelles said doctors in the NICU at Golisano's noticed the shape of Stetson's head was long, front to back. His diagnosis was a common one: Sagittal Craniosynostosis. It's caused by sutures in the skull fusing too early as a newborn develops.

Dr. David Lobb, a craniofacial and pediatric plastic surgeon at Pediatrix Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Specialists and Golisano Children's Hospital, said when performed at a young age, it allows more benefits.

The surgery was a decision the Labelles said was easy... and difficult at the same time.

"Do I wanna do this now, do I wanna wait till nine months, do I not want to do the surgery at all and make the right decision for your son who is an infant for his entire future," said Jared. "Whatever decision you make is life-altering."

But once they saw the entire medical team come together, the choice became easier.

"Ever since then, it's been a breeze."