Stories about: neurosurgery

Davidson: From Ohio to Boston for AVM surgery

Davidson, who had surgery to remove and AVM, poses on the lacrosse field with his sister
Davidson and his younger sister, Bella

Davidson Jump has always been a calm kid, according to his mother, Brett. So when the then 14-year-old suddenly went blind during English class in March of 2018, he didn’t panic. Instead, he asked a friend sitting nearby to walk him to the nurse’s office. He told the nurse he didn’t feel well and then had a grand mal seizure.

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Craniosynostosis: Heading in the right direction

craniosynostosis endoscopic
Credit: Rachel Larson Photography

When Ella Dorsey was born, her father Paul noticed something different about the shape of her skull. Her mother Cynthia, tired after the birth, assumed Ella’s head had gotten a little misshapen going through the birth canal, not an unusual thing to happen. But just before they were discharged, Cynthia noticed that a pediatrician she hadn’t yet met was paying particular attention to Ella’s head.

“She was holding the baby, touching her head, constantly going over the baby’s skull,” she remembers. “I finally said to her, ‘Is the baby OK?’”

That’s when Cynthia first heard the term craniosynostosis. She felt the bony ridge at the top of Ella’s head where the plates of her skull had fused together too early. Normally, these plates stay open into puberty to allow the brain room to grow, but in 1 of about 2,500 babies, the plates fuse together too early.

“I’m hysterically crying, shocked, still not knowing what this condition is,” Cynthia recounts. “As a parent, I’m thinking, ‘She’s going to have issues that will last a lifetime.’ I probably cried more than I cried in my entire life.”

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Determined to get back in the game

04 22 2014 Kyle Arieta ISeventeen-year-old Kyle Arieta lives for football, but as his mother is quick to note, football doesn’t define him. Instead, she points to a quiet determination that he’s learned from his years on the playing field. It’s an attitude of pushing through and moving beyond that’s served him well in the game, and which drove him to get back on his feet after the brain tumor.

When the southeastern Massachusetts native went to bed one night last May, he’d been having headaches off and on for a while. They weren’t all that bad, more like a mild cold that wouldn’t go away.

That next morning, though, it was clear that the headaches had been a sign of something more. Kyle awoke in head-splitting pain—and nearly blind.

By the end of the day, he was at Boston Children’s Hospital, where neurosurgeons performed emergency surgery to remove a tumor growing in his pituitary gland—a pea-sized part of the brain that acts like a control room for the body’s hormones.

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Global connections: Khalid’s story

When faced with a sick child, every parent in the world wants the same thing—the best care possible. Often, all it takes is a quick visit with the local health care provider. Occasionally, it means a trip to the local hospital or short stay at an academic medical center. In rare cases, obtaining the best care requires an extraordinary effort.

A mother finds herself researching the world’s best pediatric neurosurgeons. An uncle turns to YouTube to learn more about brain tumors. Physicians on opposite corners of the globe find ways to communicate and collaborate. And a family boards an air ambulance, embarking on a 7,000-mile journey, anticipating a marathon neurosurgery for their child and hoping for the best.

In December 2013, Mohammad and Hend Al Ansari, from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, found themselves in that rare group of parents.

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