Elmont family returns to Cohen Children’s to thank surgeon for saving infant’s life after pit bull attack

Elmont family returns to Cohen Children’s to thank surgeon for saving infant’s life after pit bull attack
Dr. Shaun Rodgers, left, visits with baby Nathan and his parents, Susan and Hyacienth Na’anmiap, two months after Nathan and Susan were attacked by a pit bull. (Photo courtesy of Northwell Health)

This Mother’s Day had a special meaning for one new Elmont mother.

Susan Na’anmiap held her four-month-old son Nathan, scars tracing the top of his head, throughout a news conference Friday at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park where just months earlier, Nathan had been rushed into surgery after a near-fatal pit bull attack. 

“I will be spending this day with joy in my heart,” Na’anmiap said of her first Mother’s Day. “My baby is safe and healthy. It’s a thing of joy to see your children alive and well. This Mother’s Day will be the greatest day of my life.”

Na’anmiap was carrying Nathan in a car seat when she knocked on her neighbor’s door on March 8. Once the door opened, a pit bull raced out of the home and attacked the mother and the infant.

Na’anmiap was taken to Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park to have deep lacerations in her leg evaluated and treated, but her baby’s injuries were much more serious.

Nathan was taken to the Cohen Children’s emergency room with severe wounds across his head and face, and according to pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Shaun Rodgers, “the dog’s teeth had punctured and fractured the baby’s skull.”

“He was very sick when I first saw him,” Rodgers said. “I knew we had to move quickly, because at that first moment, we could see brain material seeping onto his pillow.”

Doctors determined that during the attack, the dog’s teeth had pierced the skull, leaving shattered bone fragments pushing into Nathan’s brain.

“Thankfully, the damaged area occupied the right frontal lobe of the brain, which, fortunately, is a most forgiving area,” Rodgers said of the injuries. “To be honest, when I first saw Nathan, I wondered if he would survive. As you can see, he is a very strong little boy. We will continue to watch him, but we have every reason to expect that he will have a wonderful recovery.”

During Nathan’s five-hour operation, Rodgers performed a craniotomy to fix the fracture before repairing the covering of the brain, using artificial graft material, and removing bone shards from the damaged, bleeding brain tissue.

Nathan’s father, Hyacienth Na’anmiap, spoke of the heart-felt gratitude he and his wife shared for the neurosurgeon who helped their son in his critical time of need as well as members of the hospital’s trauma team and all the nurses and staff who worked so closely during those desperate hours to save Nathan’s life.

“I can’t describe how traumatic it was to get the phone call about Nathan’s attack,” Hyacienth Na’anmiap said. “When I first saw him, I also had to wonder if he would survive. I remember I put my hand on him, prayed, and then let him go ahead into surgery. We are so grateful to Dr. Rodgers and all the people here who took such good care of our son.

“We think this must be the best hospital in the United States.”

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