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Surgery Success

Photo courtesy of Diane Phillips

Berson Joseph enjoys a snack as he recovers from his surgery.

By L.A. Story lastory@dailycorinthian.com

Berson Joseph, a two-year-old Haitian child who needed a critical surgery, was able to get the care he needed thanks to a lot of local help and prayers.

In early March, Corinth residents Diane and McCoy Phillips, learned of an urgent need for prayers -- and possibly funds -- to help a Haitian toddler get surgery to remove a disfiguring facial mass that was closing off his left eye and his left nostril. It was said that sooner or later the condition would end his life. The Phillips' helped get the word out to the Crossroads area community.

The Phillips' are friends with pediatrician Dr. Sanders Anderson and her husband, Lew Anderson, who was formerly owner/operator of the Corinth McDonalds restaurant.

It was Dr. Anderson who told Diane Phillips about Berson as the pediatrician was trying to find help for him.

On Sunday morning, Truman Stockdale's Sunday School class at Oakland Baptist Church got to meet little Berson and hear a presentation from Dr. Anderson about Berson's journey to getting the surgery he needed.

"This is really a God story," said Anderson, in an interview with the Daily Corinthian. "Through prayer, faith and persistence, Berson received his surgery on May 9 and is doing wonderful."

In a previous story, Anderson described Berson's mass as "a mid-facial encephalocele."

"It's very important that people know that the surgery wasn't done just for cosmetic purposes," said the pediatrician. "By the time, Berson had his surgery at Le Bonheur, it had gotten to the point that he couldn't breathe when he was sleeping or when he was sitting up in a carseat. We would have to hold the mass up with our hands so he could get some rest. It was essential ... it was critical that he get the surgery and God's timing was perfect."

She described a series of events that began at the Children's Museum which led her to Wayne Sneed, who just happened to "know someone" at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital. That "someone" happened to be the Chief of Surgery.

"We are grateful for the medical team put together by Dr. Trey Eubanks, Chief of Surgery at Le Bonheur. Berson received superior care from neurosurgeon Dr. Frederick Boop, plastic surgeons Drs. Robert Wallace and Lin Jing and anesthesiologist Dr. James Bradley," said Anderson.

She added that the seven-hour surgery was complicated, but they were able to get a lot accomplished. Berson will need to come back in about 18 months to have some additional surgery. He is also getting treatment for his left eye.

"He has lost some vision in that left eye. So, we're going to get him some eyeglasses," the pediatrician explained. "He will have to patch his right eye --the good eye --for a couple of hours every day until his vision starts to correct in the left eye. The mass blocked his vision. So, the eye just took a rest and we need to retrain that eye to see."

The toddler and his mother will be reunited with his father and his siblings back home in Mare-Rouge, Haiti, next week.

"He has five siblings. His dad has been taking care of them. His mom is ready to go home and I'm sure the dad is ready for them to come home," said Anderson.

Berson, who will be three in July, has already been credited with having a big personality. Now, it appears there's no stopping him.

"He's running, jumping, playing and telling jokes," said Anderson. "His English continues to improve."

She said God used so many people to make this happen. They needed a lot of money for the surgery. Through matching grants, they were able to contribute over $100,000 to the Le Bonheur Foundation in honor of Berson.

"People were just praying -- and praying everywhere -- that God would provide, and He did. He showed up and it was awesome," said Anderson, who became emotional as she spoke. "I think it was in John, Chapter 9, where the disciples asked Jesus, if the man was born blind because the parents sinned, or because he had sinned. Jesus said it was so that the works of God can be manifested in him ... and that's what we've seen in Berson."