The right surgeon at the right time for Zakara
When Zakara Brown’s mom, Shante’, talks about Dr. David Lanning, she not only describes how he saved her daughter’s life, but how he put her at ease throughout the process.
Because of some trouble with eating, Dr. Lanning and Shante’ had decided that Zakara would benefit from a gastrostomy tube – or g-tube – allowing for a direct passage of nutrition and medications into the stomach.
The prospect of surgery to place the g-tube was scary, but comfort, education and clinical expertise put Shante at ease
Naturally, Shante’ wanted the best for her daughter, but the prospect of surgery to place the g-tube was scary. She had been talking with Dr. Lanning and his team at appointments, but it was the follow-up phone call he made to her that really put her at ease. He described the surgery and listened to her concerns. Perhaps what Shante’ appreciated most was the humble calmness he brought to the discussion, allowing her time to ask questions and sharing what he would do if Zakara were his child.
A woman of great faith, this meant the world to Shante’.
“That one conversation gave me peace. I knew God chose Dr. Lanning for us. I trusted him with Zakara’s life and I’m glad I did,” said Shante’.
With that, Shante’ chose to proceed with the surgery. But during the surgery, Dr. Lanning discovered another issue. Zakara had a hiatal hernia. In other words, the opening in her diaphragm at the base of her esophagus was too large, allowing her stomach to slide up into the middle of her chest. In addition to causing severe reflux, irritation and pain, a hiatal hernia can lead to more serious consequences, including aspiration pneumonia, if material from the stomach enters the lungs, and even cancer.
Dr. Lanning quickly pivoted to provide the care Zakara needed via a surgery he brought to Richmond 16 years ago. He pulled her stomach back into her abdomen, repaired the hiatal hernia and performed a Nissen fundoplication to correct the reflux. He also placed the g-tube as originally planned. All of these procedures were done laparoscopically, with small incisions and a fairly quick recovery. Zakara was able to return home within just a few days of surgery.
A healthier, happier future after g-tube surgery
“The hole in Zakara’s diaphragm was quite large – about the size of a tennis ball, when it should be more like the size of a quarter at her age,” said Dr. Lanning. “The recurrence rate following this procedure is quite low and Zakara’s prognosis is great.”
Following surgery, Dr. Lanning showed Shante’ pictures of the hole in Zakara’s diaphragm and her organs, explaining what he did and how everything looks now. Shante’ looked at them with tear-filled eyes and a grateful heart.
Since CHoR is part of an academic medical center, Zakara’s surgery provided an opportunity for physicians in training to learn about the diagnosis and shadow during the treatment of a somewhat unique case.
“I was grateful for the students to experience the miracle of my daughter’s transformation,” added Shante’. “Zakara is thriving in ways I never would have expected. She’s gaining weight, doesn’t have as many colds, no more choking and discomfort, and she’s not afraid of feeding.”
Now that Zakara is feeling better, she and her mom are ready for COVID to be history so they can enjoy being out and about safely.