'Wonder Boy' From Lithuania Gets Life-Changing Surgery On Long Island
NEW HYDE PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A little boy from thousands of miles away is getting a life-changing surgery on Long Island.
The hospital staff calls him their wonder patient, due to his similarities to the character, Auggie, in the book and movie "Wonder."
Rokas Zalaga is just five years old and has Goldenhar syndrome, a very rare disease.
His family is from Lithuania, and he was brought to Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park for a pro-bono surgery by Dr. James Bradley.
"He's missing his right ear. He's missing his right jaw," Bradley told CBS2's Cindy Hsu. "Rokas had trouble breathing. He had trouble eating and speaking. He had trouble hearing. From the surgery, now he can breathe."
Zalaga has undergone six surgeries, starting when he was just three months old.
"The surgery came out successful, so that's what makes us really happy. And because Rokas began to sleep good now," his mother, Ruta Zalage, said.
Zalaga told Hsu he was feeling well and he liked his doctors and nurses.
Just like Auggie in the movie, his parents said he just wants to be a normal kid.
"He likes to play, he likes a lot of cartoon characters, he likes LEGOs, games," his father, Vytenis Zalaga, said. "He's very sweet, he's very kind to his sister, he likes to share."
He also really loves Spider-Man. So the hospital arraigned for a big surprise, making the little boy's dream come true.
Zalaga returns home to Lithuania on Friday, but he will be coming back to Cohen in about six months for more surgery.
Doctors say he will likely be finished with his reconstructive facial surgeries by the time he's a teenager.
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