Brittany ComakApr 11, 2018, 5:52 pm

Lithuanian 'Wonder' boy gets life-changing reconstructive surgery

NextGenFace Foundation repairs 5-year-old’s debilitating facial deformities for free


NEW HYDE PARK — A little boy from Lithuania suffering from severe facial deformities is getting a chance at a more normal life thanks to the doctors at Cohen Children's Medical Center.

5-year-old Rokas is like most children his age. He loves Spiderman, Legos, and arts and crafts. But Rokas was also born with two facial deformities, which is extremely rare according to his doctor. He suffered from a cleft palate, as well as Goldenhar Syndrome.

"After the birth, it was the hardest part of our lives because it was a shock. We didn't know, we didn't expect it," said Ruta Zalagae, Rokas's mom.

Rokas had several unsuccessful surgeries in Europe in an attempt to help him eat, breathe, and talk. But with the help of a family friend who had moved from Europe to New York, she connected Rokas and his family to Northwell Health’s NextGenFace Foundation who performed the surgery pro-bono.

"We didn't expect that one surgery could change this much," Zalagae said,

Pediatric plastic surgeon Dr. James Bradley took one of Rokas's ribs to help complete the part of his jaw that was missing. Now he is sleeping much better because he is able to breathe. He will need more surgeries in the future and is due back in New York in six months but the family says they are so happy to see progress has been made.

"Rokas worked his way into our hearts here at Northwell Health and I mention his bravery, and that he's become our hero," Dr. Bradley said.

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Oyster Bay, New York