Stories about: Darren Orbach

Back from the brink: Bryan’s life-threatening brain AVM

BryanThomasHeadShot

Ed. note: This is an updated version of a post that originally appeared in January.

Bryan Thomas doesn’t remember what happened at the eighth-grade graduation party in June, the night he almost lost his life. He knows only what he’s been told.

He was celebrating at a sleepover that Saturday night when he leaned over to his friend and said, “I have a headache.”

“My friend asked if I wanted an Advil, but I said I would tough it out,” Bryan says.

Two or three minutes later, he told his friend the headache was getting worse. He took three ibuprofen, but soon sat down and said, “I can’t go on.” He began rocking back and forth, saying how scared he was.

Then he threw up and passed out.

Read Full Story | Leave a Comment

Catching up with Poppy: Life after an eye tumor

retinoblastoma
Poppy with her little sister Hazel (Courtesy of Dana Biagini)

When Poppy Biagini was just four months old, her family got news no parent wants to hear — that she had a rare, rapidly growing tumor in her right eye called a retinoblastoma.

That was almost three years ago. But if you looked at Poppy today, you’d be hard pressed to tell that she’s anything other than your average 3-year-old who loves Curious George, swim class and playing dress-up.

“She knows that there’s something a little different with her eye than everyone else’s,” her father Dana says. “But she’s handling it well.”

Read Full Story | Leave a Comment

All roads lead to Boston for South Carolina parents-to-be

Vein of GalenWhen you’re a South Carolina couple expecting your first baby, the prospect of a two-day, 1,000-mile road trip to deliver your bundle of joy seems far-fetched.

“Boston is not next door,” concedes Tradd Martin. “But after talking about the pros and cons, it was an easy decision.”

Tradd and his wife Jean decided to deliver their son Alex at Brigham and Women’s Hospital after doctors detected a Vein of Galen malformation, a rare blood vessel abnormality in the brain, during a third-trimester ultrasound.

“I was 32 weeks pregnant, and everything was going great. We even debated not doing the ultrasound, but a little something was telling us, ‘Go ahead,’” recalls Jean.

The ultrasound technician told the Martins she was concerned about an area in Alex’s brain, and the obstetrician diagnosed the couple’s unborn son with a Vein of Galen malformation.

“Our whole world turned upside down,” says Jean. She started researching the condition online to try to find some answers. “There was hardly anything on the Internet, except for Boston Children’s Hospital.”

Read Full Story | 1 Comment | Leave a Comment

Our patients’ stories: Yousef’s Vein of Galen surgery

Yousef-1Yousef Alrkhayes was just two days old when a doctor burst into his mother’s, Khadjad’s, hospital room with unsettling news. “[He] came into my room and said that Yousef has high pressure in his heart and they didn’t know why,” she recalls. After you are discharged, the doctor continued, don’t even go home—go straight to the main hospital.

In the four days it took Khadjah to recover enough to move with her son, Yousef made little progress. His heart was still under stress and no one could say why. As their doctor sent them on their way, he begged them to ask for an echocardiogram at the hospital.

Khadjah could tell from the sound of his voice that he was worried.

Read Full Story | Leave a Comment