El Paso baby has life-changing surgery

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) - It's something that wouldn't have been possible a short time ago in the Borderland: a life-changing surgery for a 7-month old baby. 

Dr. David Yates, a Cleft and Craniofacial Surgeon, recently moved to El Paso, just in time to help little Ethan Robles.

Ethan's mom, Teresita Fernandez de Robles says it's painful preparing for her baby to have surgery, but knows it needs to be done. 

Dr. Yates explains why Ethan needs a cranial vault surgery at such a young age. "He has something where the sutures of his skull have fused, and that fusion makes it so that the brain cannot grow normally, and so the skull ends up only being able to grow in one direction."

The doctor says children are able to grow back one in a way adults can't.

"Kids just have an incredible regenerative potential. Ethan is 7 months, so we can make a large hole in his skull, in the bones of his head, by taking out this suture that's been affected, negatively. Even if we take that our right now and leave a large hole, he will completely heal with bone," adds Dr. Yates.

The cost of a surgeon to perform this kind of procedure is $14,000, and Medicaid reimbursement is only $1,000.

"So really these are surgeries of love." Dr. Yates says.

The surgery is now being done in El Paso for the first time, making the process a little easier for families who will no longer have to travel to cities hundreds of miles away, like San Antonio or Dallas.

But for Yates, its about more than that. "It is a huge privilege, it's a blessing. This is why doctors become doctors -- to be able to help kids like Ethan and kids in this community, and I get goose bumps talking about it."

Ethan underwent his surgery Friday morning and Dr. Yates informed NewsChannel 9 that Ethan is doing great and the surgery could not have gone better.

If you're interested in knowing more about the special facial surgeries and procedures now available in El Paso, click HERE.

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