case western reserve university



Dental School teams with medical doctors to save boy's life


Most young children never have to think twice about jumping up and down and running around. A few steps for 6-year-old Antonio Aguilar from Honduras exhaust the little boy.

Born with a birth defect to his heart that deprives his body of oxygen, Antonio sorely needed medical treatment to keep him alive.

Antonio and his mother have flown thousands of miles from their home in Texiguat, Honduras, through the assistance of Gesu Catholic Church in University Heights to their temporary home at Ronald McDonald House in University Circle.

Before Antonio could even begin the procedures to correct his heart defect that will give him the strength to keep up with his peers, he needed dental work to clear any infections that might be present.

Once in Cleveland, Antonio came under the special care of a humanitarian medical team, including Case Western Reserve University's Dr. Yasser Armanazi, a pediatric dentist from the Case School of Dental Medicine, and Dr. Hani Hennein, associate professor of surgery at the School of Medicine and chief of pediatric cardiothoracic surgery, and Dr. Yakov Elgudin, senior instructor of surgery at the School of Medicine and pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon from Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital.

The team has volunteered to provide the life-saving medical treatment that gives Antonio a chance to experience all the things little boys like to do.

According to Dr. Armanazi, without taking care of Antonio's teeth and oral infections, he could die from any infection he had that would spread from his mouth to his body after his heart surgery.

Dr. Armanazi points out the importance of caring for the teeth and how they can impact the overall health of children.

Like other children needing surgery, many make a stop at the Irving and Jeanne Tapper Pediatric Dental Clinic, located on the first floor of Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, and where the Case dental school's pediatric department works and operates the clinic. Antonio's oral health necessitated a visit to the operating room where he had teeth removed and others filled.

According to Jerold Goldberg, dean of the Case dental school, the Tapper Clinic provides dental services prior to surgery or medical treatments like chemotherapy for children at Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital. The pediatric clinic is also open for the public and patient referrals from other dentists.

Antonio faced two surgeries-the first with Dr. Armanazi and the second with the cardiac team.

Between visits, Antonio, carried by his mother because of his weakness, was able to experience life in the United States. Through his hospital interpreter, Mouna Ina from the Center for International Relations at University Hospitals of Cleveland, Antonio says he likes "everything" that he sees.

On a recent visit to the Tapper Clinic after dental surgery, Antonio, upon greeting Dr. Armanazi, flashed a big, healthy smile.


About Case Western Reserve University

Case is among the nation's leading research institutions. Founded in 1826 and shaped by the unique merger of the Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve University, Case is distinguished by its strengths in education, research, service, and experiential learning. Located in Cleveland, Case offers nationally recognized programs in the Arts and Sciences, Dental Medicine, Engineering, Law, Management, Medicine, Nursing, and Social Work.