Saturday, February 10, 2024

Arteriovenous malformation

A Texas family's trip to the Big Apple for their 10-year-old son's birthday turned into a nightmare, after their son became violently ill and was induced into a coma at a New York City ICU.

Riker Stippick's family surprised him with a birthday vacation to New York City to experience the popular Broadway musical, Hamilton, and to eat his first slice of New York City pizza.

"Bless his sweet little heart," David Stippick, Riker’s dad, told FOX 7.

"He wanted to go to the Weehawken dueling ground where Aaron Burr and Hamilton had their duel," he said.

Stippick said that on his son's tenth birthday, the last thing on his mind was that his son could become violently ill.

"Your kid is happy and healthy and 10, you kind of assume they're going to stay that way," said Stippick.

On the way to the World Trade Center, Riker's health took a turn, and he shared with his parents that he was experiencing the "worst headache" he had ever had.

"There's a building over there that we walked through and as soon as we walked through that building he said, 'Oh, I have a really bad headache. This is the worst headache I've ever had,’" Stippick told the local outlet.

Moments later, the birthday boy vomited and laid down near a bench to rest.

"It was like a shriek of pain," said Stippick.

They took him to the hospital, where doctors put him in a medically induced coma.

"It's as awful as it sounds, you know what I mean?" said Stippick.

New York City doctors told Riker's parents that they believe that he may have experienced an arteriovenous malformation, which is an abnormal connection between his arteries and veins and can cause bleeding into the brain or spinal cord.

Doctors said that the 10-year-old experienced an aneurysm inside his arteries and veins-- leading to his excruciating pain.

Surgeons had to drill a hole into Riker's skull to drain blood and fluid and to remove clotting.

"We don't know the genuine hope of if and when he does come out of this, what kind of therapies or treatments are going to be needed down the line," said Stippick.

Doctors still need to do an MRI on the boy before they can give his family an official diagnosis.

They told Riker's parents that he must become stable and get off of his tubes and machines before they can fully diagnose him.

Now the Stippicks are praying that their son will wake up from the coma and that they will receive answers to their many questions about their son's health.

"We never expected it to be our reality, but it is," said Stippick.

The family's support system, including their church in Texas, has rallied around the family during their nightmare.

Their church's lead pastor at Peace of Christ Church opened a GoFundMe account that reached more than $78,000 in just a few days.

"I don't have the words to say thank you to everybody outside the words thank you," said Stippick.

1 comment:

  1. While taking a shower one morning last November, 13-year-old Ethan Brautigam suddenly felt the worst headache of his life.

    He grabbed a towel and screamed for his mom. "He was panicking," remembers his mother, Erin Brautigam. "He said, "My head hurts, my head hurts. Something's wrong with my head."

    Brautigam had suffered from migraines, so she thought perhaps her son was having one now. He vomited, but she wasn't too alarmed. "I know a migraine can make you feel really crappy and make you throw up. So I wasn't freaking out yet," she tells PEOPLE.

    Once he was lying down, she asked if he needed to go to the Emergency Room, and he told her to call 911. "And I remember, I think I said, 'Seriously?' And he's like, 'Yeah.' And so I said, 'Okay.' "

    While his mother was on the phone with a dispatcher, Ethan started having a seizure and the right side of his face drooped. "It was like it melted," his mother says. "I was freaking out."

    The teen was airlifted to Texas Children's Hospital where he was diagnosed with a ruptured arteriovenous malformation (AVM), a tangle of blood vessels in his right temporal lobe. The rupture caused bleeding in his brain.

    "If he hadn't gotten to us quickly, he would've died," says Ethan's brain surgeon, Dr. Samuel McClugage III, pediatric neurosurgeon at Texas Children's Hospital and assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine.

    About one in 100,000 people per year are diagnosed with AVM's, which usually aren't discovered until after they rupture. Left untreated, they can cause brain damage, strokes or death. Fortunately, Ethan's mom was with him when it ruptured around 7:20 a.m. and got him to the hospital quickly. He was wheeled into surgery at 12:30 p.m.

    "We had to take him into the OR immediately," McCluggage tells PEOPLE. "The pressure in his brain was very high."

    An external ventricular drain was inserted to remove the excess blood and spinal fluid causing pressure in Ethan's brain.

    When Ethan woke from the procedure, he was intubated so he couldn't speak. He asked for a pen and wrote his mother notes saying, "I love you so much," and "thank you."

    "He's just a little lover," his mother says of Ethan, the youngest of her three sons. "He's very caring and a super sensitive soul."

    Ethan spent the next month in the hospital, while a team of experts determined the best course of action.

    On December 22, McCluggage performed a 13-hour surgery to remove the AVM – chances of it rupturing again are low, McCluggage explains, but if it happened again, it could be fatal.

    "It can be a very challenging surgery, but his went very well. We were able to get the entire thing out," McCluggage says.

    Ethan was discharged from the hospital on New Year's Eve, and more than 200 friends lined the streets of his neighborhood in The Woodlands, Texas, waving signs, confetti and cowbells.

    "It was so awesome," his mother says. "All the love we felt and the support and the prayer. Our community and our friends totally wrapped their arms around us."

    Ethan turned 14 in March, and the 8th grader is back in school and even made the golf team. But after a full day of school, he is exhausted. He's still regaining the weight he lost while in the hospital. "He's getting back to his normal self," his mother says.

    His mom urges other parents: "Listen to your kids," she says. "The moral of this story is: If your kid tells you to call 911 — call 911."