Today, though, Casimiro is a healthy 5-month-old with a charming smile who loves to be held. The transformation can be attributed to the young boy’s willingness to fight an aggressive illness and to the surgical and medical intervention of a team of health care professionals at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond.
Casimiro was born in his native Belize with an anorectal malformation and a congenital obstruction just beyond the stomach that prevented him from receiving any nutrition for almost a month. He experienced a range of problems associated with his condition from the start, including malnutrition and pervasive infection.
The Belizean pediatrician that initially cared for Casimiro was unable to identify the source of Casimiro’s illness and he reached out to David Lanning, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of surgery and pediatrics and surgeon-in-chief, Children’s Hospital of Richmond. Lanning had spent a week in Belize in October providing surgical care to children through the World Pediatric Project — formerly known as International Hospital for Children.
Casimiro’s pediatrician sent Lanning the infant’s X-rays, and Lanning diagnosed the child. Plans were then made to transfer the child with his mother to Children’s Hospital of Richmond at the VCU Medical Center.
Upon his arrival, Casimiro was admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where he immediately received care from multiple specialists in areas such as neonatology, cardiology, infectious disease, hematology, anesthesia and surgery.
Casimiro ultimately received months of medical care and nutritional support, and he underwent several operations to repair his intestinal obstruction and anorectal malformation. According to his mother, Elvira Lino, Casimiro is now thriving.
“When I look at him day by day, he is opening his eyes, being himself and that’s the one thing I know — that he will survive,” Lino said. “So that’s a miracle that he is here.”
During Casimiro’s stay, many members of the nursing staff, such as Kimberly Floyd, R.N., a nurse in the NICU, developed a fondness for the child and his mother.
“(Lino) was a part of our family,” Floyd said. “She came in and talked to us every day and we kind of adopted her and Devaan. She and her son meant so much to our unit.
“We’re here to make people better. So for him to come and make a complete transformation is why we do the job. That’s the only reason why we do it — to make people better.”
Casimiro’s story is only one of many like it that happen as the result of the dedicated care provided by the medical and surgical specialists at CHoR to children with conditions that cannot be treated adequately in many developing countries.
In addition, many VCU Medical Center specialists, including anesthesiologists, neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons and general/thoracic pediatric surgeons, have traveled to the Caribbean and Central and South America to provide life-saving care through organizations such as the World Pediatric Project and Children’s Medical Services International.
“What’s really gratifying to me is to have an institution such as Children’s Hospital of Richmond where we can bring these children in, which we’ve done a number of times before, that would otherwise die or languish in their own country, bring them here, fix their problem, comfort the parents and send them back healthy as can be,” Lanning said. “Fortunately for Devaan, he has an extremely good chance of having 80-plus years of life left to enjoy, so it’s great for the family, great for the team and all of the people involved in his care.”
Children’s Hospital of Richmond is a full-service children’s hospital that offers a robust continuum of pediatric services, research and education. Ten locations throughout Central Virginia include two main campuses and several satellite outpatient and therapy centers. For more information, visit www.chrichmond.org or call 804-828-CHOR.
The World Pediatric Project was founded in 2001 as International Hospital for Children with the mission to link worldwide pediatric surgical, diagnostic and preventative resources to heal critically ill children in developing countries. For more information, visit http://www.worldpediatricproject.org/.
VCU Communications and Public Relations