Six months ago an eight year old girl from Israel united more than 1,200 people in a groundbreaking campaign to provide a life-changing surgery. A month ago her medical journey reached its climax. The day her family has hoped and prayed for arrived at last.
When Ester Chanina first came into the world on the 4th of Adar, something was different. “At first, we didn’t know what it was,” her mother, Henny Chanina, explains. “The doctors told us they needed to do some testing. But by the next morning, we found out that our newborn daughter, Ester, was born with craniosynostosis, a condition in which the skull closes prematurely in utero. Her brain would have no space to grow, and slowly pressure would build causing brain function to fail.”
The next few months culminated in an extensive 11-hour craniofacial surgery to open the sutures and give her brain the space it needed. The initial procedure was a success. Ester was healthy, her brain growing, her mind intelligent and curious.
But as she grew, she began asking questions. She became painfully aware that she did not look like other children and began to seek ways to conceal her physical differences.
“Sometimes I would catch her standing in the mirror trying to figure out if she puts her hair a certain way, or if she wears a hat, maybe no one will notice?” her mother recalls.
“Since she is emotionally and physically developing as her peers, she is acutely aware of her differences. That can be very frightening for a child.”
Last summer, a Charidy campaign for Ester exceeded its goal, raising a total of $83,576 to fund a full cranial-vault remodeling of her skull so that she could finally feel beautiful, confident and accepted by her peers.
“This campaign literally created a new family,” shared Aryeh Leib Hurwitz, Fundraising Specialist at Charidy. “Perfect strangers from around the world, who were wholly unaffiliated with the family, came together to make a huge difference for this little girl.”
On April 25th, Ester was brought into the operating room. Over the next few hours, her dream was be realized—thanks to your support, the support of her community and the wonderful care Dr. Fearon and his team at the Medical City Children’s Hospital of Dallas.
The family requests that her name, Ester bat Henya Chasiba, be kept in our hearts in the months and years to come.