Sixteen-year-old competitive swimmer Grace Lesce looked up at her doctors during a two month checkup, following the nearly 11-hour surgery to reshape and expand her skull, and asked her most burning question — when could she get back in the pool? “You can go back anytime,” said Dr. Mark Souweidane, director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Komansky Center for Children’s Health, after examining her head. “Like tomorrow?” Grace asked with a huge smile. Her other doctor, Dr. Jeffrey Ascherman, chief of Plastic Surgery at NY-Presbyterian/Columbia Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, assented, but told her to go easy. “Everything’s going in the direction it’s supposed to,” he said. Grace, who lives in Fanwood, N.J., was born with the bones in her skull prematurely fused in a rare condition called craniosynostosis. When Grace was just six months old, Souweidane first operated on her, reconstructing her elongated and misshapen skull to accommodate her growing brain. She needed several subsequent ear surgeries, but soon thrived. She started swimming competitively at age 8, and joined the year-round team at the Fanwood-Scotch Plains YMCA. In 2013, she came within a second of a national qualifying time for the 100-meter breast stroke. However, last summer she… Read full this story
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