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Mass. Eye and Ear patient Caroline Deneen’s story

September 11, 2019


[alarm beeps] Narrator: Imagine, you wake up in the morning
and you can’t see through your right eye. [background music] Caroline: I was really scared and I didn’t
really know what was happening. Julie: Caroline woke up around 6:15, and her
right eye was swollen, at that time, the size of a butt of a ping pong ball. Caroline: When my mom first saw me, she said,
“What happened?” and she was really scared and confused. Narrator: The Denean family rushed Caroline
to a nearby hospital. Julie: They were pretty overwhelmed with what
they saw. The attending doctor said, “You need to go
into Boston.” Narrator: Caroline was immediately taken to
the Mass. Eye and Ear Emergency Department where she
was seen by ophthalmologist, Dr. Daniel Lefebvre. Julie: He told us that Caroline’s swollen
eye was actually called ocular cellulitis. It was basically the swelling from fluid that
instead of draining down into her sinuses actually went into the eye cavity. Narrator: Doctors went to work immediately,
pediatric otolaryngology, Christopher Hartnick drained the infection in the sinuses while
Dr. Lefebvre did the same for Caroline’s eye, disaster was avoided but a few days later,
Caroline fell ill. The infection had spread to her brain. Dr. Daniel R. Lefebvre: That’s dangerous. When the infection is around the brain, there
is real risk of a seizure, other neurological problems, and does become life threatening. Julie: It needed immediate attention, emergency
surgery. Dr. Lefebvre: Ordinarily to drain an infection
like that from around the brain, an incision would be made across the scalp and that’s
elevated, and a piece of bone is removed from the skull and that allows drainage of the
infection. The problem is that’s a big incision. It just takes time to do it, even time to
repair it, a long time to heal. Narrator: However Dr. Lefebvre felt it was
possible to perform another kind of procedure that was less intrusive, but he wouldn’t know
for sure until he and the neurosurgeon were in the OR. Michael: It was very scary and nerve racking
for me as a father to basically have to turn the keys over to a team of an individuals
and really have no power myself to help the process. Dr. Lefebvre: We made an incision just above
the hair of her eyebrow and that allowed us to get down to the bone, a small drill hole
was made in the bone here. The neurosurgery team came in and they were
able to drain the infection and clean out the area through that small hole. The closure was accomplished simply by closing
the soft tissue and the skin here with some stitches. Julie: Two hours later, Caroline was sitting
up in her bed in the hospital and she asked to have her hair washed. Dr. Lefebvre: End result for Caroline is,
if she wanted to, she could forget this ever happened. Julie: I love Dr. Lefebvre. He truly could relate to us. You could see that he cared about my family
just as much as he could care for his own family. Narrator: Dr. Lefebvre is quick to share credit
with his colleagues, like Dr. Hartnick. Dr. Lefebvre: You need to have an eye doctor,
an EMT doctor, a neurosurgeon, pediatric infectious disease specialist, all coming together to
get that result. It’s limited to centers such as Mass. Eye and Ear. Narrator: Today, it’s virtually impossible
to see where Caroline had her surgery. Last year, she showed how grateful she was
for all the hospital did. Caroline: For my birthday, I asked my family
and friends that if they were going to give anything to me for my birthday, to please
make a donation to Mass. Eye and Ear, and they did. Michael: We were touched and we were very
proud as parents to have a 12-year old to make a decision like that. Julie: I have a lot of gratitude for everything
that they did for us during our time at Mass. Eye and Ear, and I do truly feel blessed that
we live so close to such an amazing hospital.

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