Preston Tassi was born with a rare neurological condition called Moebius syndrome, that affected his ability to smile. Had to use his hands to move his mouth and show he was smiling. Thanks to a special surgery at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Preston can now smile without using his hands.
In February, Preston underwent the final end of a two-part facial animation surgery in which surgeons at St. Louis Children’s Hospital removed nerve muscles from his inner thigh and inserted them into his cheeks.
“It’s scary having your little one under anesthesia for 10 hours or more,” Sarah says, noting that Preston underwent the first portion of the surgery last August. “There were a lot of emotions.”
It can take several months for the surgery to produce a smile, hospital staff said in a statement. But just three months after the final surgery (two weeks before his 6th birthday), Preston was able to sport a wide grin. Sarah says she’ll never forget seeing her son smile for the first time.
“It was Mother’s Day, we were in Kansas City with his cousins. There was a birthday party and somebody was like, ‘Preston, let me take a picture of ya.’ And he turned around and he grinned at them,” Sarah recalls. “It was just amazing. It’s the little things you take for granted. I broke down and cried.”