NEWS | April 23, 2020

Pediatric neurosurgery team at UC Davis saves local boy's life

Diagnosed with craniosynostosis, Rhoen Papini couldn't wait

(SACRAMENTO)

At six months old, Rhoen Papini’s head swelled, accompanied by a 104 degree fever.

Craniofacial surgery patient, Rhoen Papini, with mom, Amber Schayltz, getting fitted for a new helmet as part of his post-operative care. Craniofacial surgery patient, Rhoen Papini, with mom, Amber Schayltz, getting fitted for a new helmet as part of his post-operative care.

“Everything was fine and then it wasn’t,” said Rhoen’s mom, Amber Schayltz. “We didn’t know what was happening. We were panicked.”

Amber and Rhoen’s dad, Brian Papini, were referred to UC Davis Children’s Hospital. They got the diagnosis – craniosynostosis.

This condition, typically seen in newborns, involves an abnormal skull shape with restricted brain growth. Their son’s cranial bones had grown too fast, causing pressure in his skull. Fortunately, UC Davis has a craniofacial clinic and pediatric neurosurgeons who knew what to do.

“Both doctors, Marike Zwienenberg and Craig Senders, agreed he needed cranial surgery immediately,” Schayltz said. “They patiently walked us through what would happen, confident they could help Rhoen.”

Papini said the surgeons reassured them and calmed their nerves.

"They’re amazing physicians with equally amazing bedside manners. Both of us felt our son was in good hands,” Papini said.

In surgery, Rhoen Papini had a piece of his skull removed. The surgery was a success with no complications. Post-operative helmet therapy is all this little boy needed. Rhoen is cognitively and physically on track and celebrated his first birthday in March, a milestone his parents were thrilled to celebrate.

“I am a huge fan of UC Davis Children’s Hospital,” Schayltz said. “It is so fortunate that we have access to that level of care right here in Sacramento.”

UC Davis Children's Hospital is the Sacramento region's only nationally ranked, comprehensive hospital providing care for infants, children, adolescents and young adults with primary, subspecialty and critical care. It includes the Central Valley's only pediatric emergency department and level I pediatric trauma center, which offers the highest level of care for its critically ill patients, as well as a level I children’s surgery center. The 129-bed children's hospital includes the state-of-the-art 49-bed neonatal and 24-bed pediatric intensive care and pediatric cardiac intensive care units. For more information, visit children.ucdavis.edu.