Dr. Mark Souweidane Performs Successful DIPG Biopsy

Olivia Boccuzzi

On Friday, January 6, Dr. Mark Souweidane performed a DIPG biopsy on Olivia Boccuzzi, who was only 22 months old when she was diagnosed with the disease on September 21 of last year. Olivia’s parents, Enza and Frank, noticed their daughter had a hard time walking and her face was starting to droop. They decided to take her to the emergency room, where the terrible news was confirmed by an MRI. This beautiful young girl who loves dancing like a ballerina, watching Dora the Explorer and playing with 4-year-old brother James, now faced six weeks of radiation and a regimen of Dexamethasone (brand name Decadron), a steroid drug frequently administered to brain stem tumor patients for the swelling and “tightness” of their tumor at the base of their skull. Doctors treating Olivia continued to monitor her until, on December 8, an MRI showed that Olivia’s tumor exhibited a significant amount of necrosis. With these atypical results, her parents consulted with Dr. Mark Souweidane, who agreed to perform the biopsy. This procedure had been done in France but remains a controversial choice in the United States. The operation was a success and after one night in the ICU, Olivia is back home with her family awaiting the results of her groundbreaking biopsy. The Cristian Rivera Foundation wishes to applaud Olivia and her family for their strength and bravery in the face of DIPG and will keep them in our thoughts and prayers as Olivia continues to recover.

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