Lifelong patient becomes nurse
Michael Rosati grew up knowing his summers between school terms would be spent in hospital, undergoing facial reconstruction surgeries.
The 22-year-old was born with Crouzon syndrome, a rare genetic disorder characterized by the premature fusion of certain skull bones, which prevents the skull from growing normally and affects the shape of the head and face.
Symptoms are very pronounced features, especially in the face, including low-set ears, the appearance of a short and broad head, and a compressed nasal passage. Hearing loss, vision and dental problems are also common.
After having more than 25 cranial-facial surgeries performed at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, the Stoney Creek-native and son of a nurse decided he wanted to follow in his mother's footsteps and dedicate himself to taking care of others.
The Mohawk College student will be one of 445 students to graduate from the McMaster-Mohawk-Conestoga Bachelor of Science in Nursing program on June 15 at Hamilton Place. "I'm a product of a hospital and this is my way of giving back," said Rosati. "To me, I've grown up having surgeries, so it's the norm. The hospital is a temporary home. I've grown up there."
After his first year of nursing studies, his upper jaw was brought forward 22 mm. After second-year, his bottom jaw was brought 17 mm forward. Before entering his final year, his nose was corrected.
Rosati has also had two ribs removed and used in his head, and three shunts and several titanium plates put in his head over the years.
Though his challenges have been mainly physical, his condition also disrupted his schooling. In Grade 6 he was at a third-grade reading level because of the numerous surgeries and the average three-month long hospital stays he endured. He needed one- on-one attention to catch up with his peers, but graduated from Grade 8 with honours - and "from then on, I was on par with everyone else," he said.
Rosati, who has a full-time job lined up in the Clinical Neurosciences Unit of the Hamilton General Hospital, said he doesn't let the social stigma around his appearance affect him.
"I'm used to it. I could take it down a positive road or a negative road. I choose the positive side of life because it has been challenging, but I am just grateful for being healthy and happy," he said. "I look at myself in the mirror and I say 'This is who I am and I'm happy with it.'"
Degrees will be awarded at McMaster's convocation ceremony at 9:30 a.m. on June 15. In addition, five PhD and three master's nursing students will receive graduate degrees. Graduates in medical radiation sciences will also receive their degrees at the ceremony.
An honorary Doctor of Science degree will be conferred on Nancy Edwards, a professor with the University of Ottawa's School of Nursing and Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine.