Rare, risky surgery saves Waukesha infant's life

WAUKESHA (WITI) -- A Waukesha couple was told their baby would not survive after its birth. But a rare and risky surgery saved the life of young Dominic Gundrum.

The beginning of Dominic's life was marred with uncertainty. A routine ultrasound showed an irregularity.

"I think we were all kind of afraid to talk about it for a little bit and my wife asked, 'what's that?'" said Dominic's father, Mark Gundrum.

"That" was a huge triangle-shaped gap on Dominic's face. Part of his skull hadn't fused properly.

"When we learned from the doctor what it was, it was just like we got hit with a Mack truck. Like our whole world just got turned upside down," said Gundrum.

When Dominic, the Gundrum's eighth child, was born, his facial cleft was not the only issue. Fluids had seeped through forming a bubble -- and his brain was pushing out toward the roof of his mouth. But the Gundrums had not given up hope.

"We thought maybe there's a chance our son can make it," said Mary Gundrum, Dominic's mother.

Hours of research led the family to Boston's Children's Hospital. A doctor there had performed the risky surgery needed before. The Gundrums did not hesitate to get their son the help he needed. Five months later, they traveled to Boston. Dominic was set to undergo an extensive facial reconstructive surgery.

"Handing my son off to them was the most difficult thing I've ever done," said Mary Gundrum.

After hours in the operating room, young Dominic came through healthy.

"Plenty of people saw a problem and that's all they saw, a problem. But this doctor saw a solution," said Mary Gundrum.

"He is a miracle baby and it's for so many people praying for the little guy, I have no doubt about it," said Mark Gundrum.

Weeks after the surgery, Dominic has some scars and a loving family helping him heal.

"My hope for him is that he knows how much he is loved, he is completely wanted and he was welcomed into this world with a lot of love," said Mary Gundrum.