UNC doctors help baby with severe birth defects

December 2, 2011 8:14:20 PM PST
Doctors at UNC Chapel Hill are performing hours of surgery on a baby from India that was shunned by his biological family because of severe birth defects.

Adam Paulraj was born with Bartsocas-Papas, a rare condition that left him with a severe cleft palate, missing eyelids, and legs fused together.

His biological parents abandoned him at a missionary hospital, and that's where a nurse from Jacksonville and her husband Raja - a psychiatrist and chief at the mission hospital - found him.

"Nobody wanted to see him and the hospital staff was really terrified on seeing Adam's face," explained Raja Paulraj.

The newlywed couple was moved to love the child.

"We were thinking, probably if his life is short or long, he needs to have an identity, a sense of identity, not just the deformed child in the mission hospital," said Jessica Cooksey Paulraj.

They eventually adopted him. Doctors in India gave them little hope, but then an email to a friend who works at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill changed everything.

"I looked at the pictures and I can remember thinking, 'I really want to do something for this family,'" said UNC surgeon Dr. John van Aalst. "It was a real visceral feeling."

Baby Adam arrived at the hospital on November 10. This week, he had his first round of surgeries - including one to give him eyelids to keep him from going blind. The young family expects to spend the next few months in Chapel Hill, as doctors continue to help their adopted son. 

His future is uncertain, but Dr. van Aalst is optimistic.

"There is hope that eventually Adam's going to be able to walk with prosthesis," he said. "His prognosis is excellent because he has two parents that love him."

The Paulrajs say they are finding strength in their deep Christian faith, in the community, and their little boy Adam.

"I just see Adam as someone so beautiful. Often we kind of look at the abnormal things, but we kind of miss the beautiful things that lie behind this abnormal, so-called, abnormal thing," said Raja Paulraj.

Baby Adam will need many more surgeries and the cost of his care is mounting. You can make a donation at  https://medicalfoundationofnc.org/sslpage.aspx?pid=504

You can also follow his progress on the family's blog: http://www.babyadamsjourney.com/

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