Waukesha judge's baby 'doing really well' after exposed brain found during pregnancy

CREATED Jan 30, 2013

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  • Photo: Dominicpio.com

Click here for more on Dominic Pio Gundrum's journey from his family's blog.

WAUKESHA - When Waukesha Appellate Judge and former state legislator Mark Gundrum and his wife Mary found out the child she was soon to bear had an exposed brain, Mark could not have envisioned a day where nearly a year later, he could say his son was doing well.

Nearly a year later, Dominic Pio Gundrum is "doing really well.  He's got a long road to go, yet...a number of issues we need to get through and pray about.  You see him, he's doing well."

"Where we are at today, I could not have possibly imagined on Feb. 10th when we got this news."

According to a story by the Boston Globe, Dominic's brain was covered in his skin, but outside his head.

Additionally, the two halves of his face weren't properly joined together.

Doctors said that if the Gundrums continued the pregnancy, there was a chance Dominic could pass away before or just a few hours after his birth, or he could be severely disabled.

Mark told Newsradio 620 WTMJ's Charlie Sykes that ending the pregnancy would not be an option for them.

"Doctors had to do what they have to do, and we were reminded of our option to abort Dominic, and we told them right away that was not a consideration.  This was our baby, and we were going to love him however God made him for us."

They found the news out about four months before the due date.  Mark said that gave them plenty of time to prepare for every eventuality.

"For us, we were very thankful to find out early, as hard as it was, painful as the few weeks were.  It allowed us to be prepared.  We were emotionally, psychologically, spiritually prepared for anything.  We didn't know if he was going to die within hours of birth."

"A lot of people find that information out and not find reasons to hope, and take a different option."

They went to Boston for medical care and what the Globe described as "groundbreaking surgery," and the devout Catholics found a huge "family" of people who share their faith, a "family" of people they don't know.

"It was a giant community of love to help Dominic get where he is," said Mark.

"They didn't know us from Adam, and they offered to give up their home for us to stay there.  We could have our whole family together through this ordeal and be within 45 minutes of the hospital.  On top of that, parishes, people bringing us meals every night, and they didn't know us at all."

People from Catholic parishes in the Milwaukee area also gave their assistance.

"This is a real outreaching of help, people bringing us meals, giving us help a thousand different ways, locally."

Dominic was born on June 18 at Froedtert Hospital, and since then, Mark, Mary and Dominic's seven brothers and sisters have surrounded him with immense love.

"It's a perfect family for Dominic to be born in, a lot of brothers and sisters to love him to death and give him the perfect therapy," said Mark.  "We're going to love him no matter what."

His prognosis also reveals reason for hope, even amidst having to endure a rarely-performed surgery to remove part of the skull and put the brain in its normal place.

"We're still learning.  We don't know how good his eyesight is going to be, but since his surgery, he's been tracking with his eyes, and he's doing a lot better," explained Mark.

"There could be significant brain impairment, to possibly none...he's doing a lot like a normal baby.  We'll know who Dominic is as he grows."

"Right now, he's on a good track.  I've got a lot of hope for this little guy's future."