McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Lifelong patient becomes a nurse

Published: June 15, 2012
Michael Rosati
Michael Rosati, one of 445 students graduating from the McMaster Mohawk Conestoga Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) Program

Michael Rosati grew up knowing his summers between school terms would be spent in hospital, as he had 25 facial reconstruction surgeries. He now wants to dedicate himself to taking care of others as a nurse.

The Mohawk College student was one of 445 students who graduated from the McMaster Mohawk Conestoga Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) program on June 15 at Hamilton Place.

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 compressed nasal passage. Hearing loss, vision and dental problems are also common.

Rosati has had more than 25 cranial-facial surgeries performed at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto. The Stoney Creek native said he wanted to become a nurse because of the great care he has received and the fact that his mother has been a nurse for 30 years.

"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 on 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.'"

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