Val Silcock, 20, was expected to die after he was born with his bladder outside of his body in Siberia, where he became an orphan. Silcock survived and is now working in Guerneville.By CHRIS SMITH
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Published: Sunday, December 2, 2012 at 3:28 p.m.
For someone who was born with debilitating and potentially fatal defects in a Siberian village, immediately abandoned by his parents and
tormented incidentally or intentionally at Russian orphanages, hospitals and youth camps, Val Silcock is quite a young man.
Still short of 21, the on-again, off-again Santa Rosa Junior College student supports himself by working as the techno whiz for a Guerneville-based health agency. He's a marvel to his boss, Mary Szecsey, director of West County Health Centers.
"Given the challenges he's had in his life, you just go, 'Wow,' " Szecsey said. "He's one of the nicest, gentlest, most competent young people that I know."
Silcock took some time off recently to return to Moscow to speak and offer thanks at a conference of the Russian medical charity that helped save him.
"I have been spoiled with the love of the people that have given me so much," the slender and thoughtful survivor of more than a dozen
reconstructive and emergency surgeries told the assembly. "Without these people's care for me, God knows where I would be now."
Fact is, he's quite certain that he would be dead or severely disabled had no one troubled themselves when his parents beheld his physical defects upon his birth in December of 1991 outside the city of Khabarovsk. Silcock's bladder was outside his body, an anomaly that's called bladder exstrophy and that occurs in one in 30,000 to 50,000 births. The newborn had other problems as well, including a malformation of his hips that spread his legs far apart and in time would have crippled him.