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(KTVI)– When we see something funny or pleasant, we smile.  But for some children, they cant.  Their facial muscles don’t work.

In a rare surgery, we followed a little boy through a nine month process as doctors at Children’s Hospital in St. Louis gave him the ability to smile. Five-year-old Dawson Barnett of Springfield, Mo. was diagnosed with moebius syndrome shortly after birth.  It occurs once in every 50,000 births.  Dawson has no facial expression, can’t form words well or move his eyes side to side.

Pediatric plastic surgeons at Children’s hospital took a portion of a muscle from Dawson’s thigh and connected it near his mouth and temple so that when it contracts, it makes a smiling movement by lifting the corners of his mouth.  Only five pediatric centers across the country perform this surgery including Children’s in St. Louis.

Surgeons did each side of Dawson’s face and now he can lift both sides of his mouth and form a smile.

St. Louis Children’s Hospital