It’s sad to report, but babies are born each and every day with physical and mental anomalies. Some are as minor as a few too many toes, or an additional finger. Others can be life altering – and ending. Each time it occurs, we stare in a kind of disbelief.
We gawk at biology and treat nature like the barker at a kind of social media sideshow. In the end, a diagnosis is given, a new syndrome or condition is introduced to the world, and we go about our business with just the hint of the humanity involved in our head. We don’t think beyond the obvious – the look or the outcome – and yet right there in front of us is a person being undermined by what it obviously a twist of fate.
When Paisley Morrison-Johnson was born, the doctors could tell almost immediately what was wrong with her. They could see it, but it was still hard to believe. The infant had an adult-sized tongue – a big, bulbous, wet, protruding tongue. In fact, it was so large it was blocking the child’s ability to breathe. Immediately, she was put on a ventilator.
It was also too big to allow the baby to feed properly. Enter the feeding tube. They knew Paisley needed surgery ASAP to remedy this condition. Sadly, it didn’t stick. The tongue continued to grow. So the baby underwent a second operation to hopefully shrink the size of her tongue. It was her only chance to live a normal life.
After removing another six inches of flesh and muscle, it appears that Paisley’s prognosis for a normal life is improving. She can breathe on her own. She eats, and she’s even starting to make the sounds associated with speech. Not bad for a child that, less than two years ago, was literally choking on her own tongue. Scientists call her condition Beckwith Wiedemann syndrome. Others would call it a freak occurrence. What doctors did for her, however, is a true medical miracle.