Brain Institute Patient Stories

Read inspiring stories of hope from patients and families treated at Nicklaus Children's Hospital.

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Patient of the Month: Grethell

Grethell had a large and extremely rare tumor under her jaw that required surgical resection. Thankfully, Adilia, Grethell's mother, found Nicklaus Children's Hospital and from Nicaragua, they made the journey for treatment.  Read this story.

Patient of the Month: Roberto

Roberto was born smaller than average and required further evaluation and testing at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. After being diagnosed with Wolf-Hirschhorn (4p-) syndrome, Roberto was cared by Dr. Parul Jayakar and Dr. Paula Schleifer at the Nicklaus Children's Brain Institute, and would continue treatment at the Rare Chromosomal Disorders Clinic at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.  Read this story.

Ella's Epilepsy Success Story

Ella, diagnosed with frontal lobe epilepsy in sixth grade, underwent brain surgery. Now, she's seizure free and sharing her experience via her own TED talk. Inspired by the team at Nicklaus Children's, she aims to become a neuropsychologist. Read this story.

Sofia's Inspiring Journey with SMA

Sofia was born with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) type 2, a genetic condition that affects the spinal cord’s ability to control the muscles, decreasing and limiting mobility. In Sofia’s 6 years of life, she has already overcome more medical challenges than most adults. Read this story.

Santiago's Medulloblastoma Journey

Santiago was only in kindergarten when he was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a cancerous tumor of the brain. His mother, Mehble, says their life was turned upside down when he suddenly came down with strong flu-like symptoms, high fevers, vomiting and nausea that would not go away. After 24 hours of hospitalization, they learned it was a brain tumor and needed emergency surgery to remove the mass in his brain. Read this story.

Patient of the Month: Nicole

When Nicole complained of head pain her parents, Roberto and Tamara, took her to an urgent care. After the medicine provided didn't ease her pain she was brought to Nicklaus Children's Hospital. Thankfully, a multidisciplinary team of specialists quickly understood what was at stake, Nicole was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and immediately began treatment to remove the mass. Read this story.

Beckett's Story

In his short 12 years of life, Beckett Oleson of Tampa has been a healthy, growing boy who enjoys building with Lego sets and performing in musical theater. His life changed abruptly in 2019, when he started to have seizures. Read this story.

Sebastian Beats Brain Cancer

Sebastian's mother became concerned when he began experiencing a dull headache that would not go away. After several days of the continued headaches, Sebastian's pediatrician recommended that the family take him to the emergency room for further testing. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor and with a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the brain. His doctors immediately jumped into action to create a plan for his treatment. Read this story.

Patient of the Month: Mariangel

Mariangel, born in a small town called Galerazamba, Colombia, was diagnosed in utero with cerebral palsy, a condition that affects mobility, balance and posture. After searching for answers for years, she finally found help after a Nicklaus Children’s Hospital pediatric orthopedic surgeon visited her hometown on a medical mission trip. Read this story.

#Jaydenstrong: Two Nicklaus Children’s Nurses Find Hope and Healing for Their Ailing Son

Dayse and Oscar Delgado are two registered nurses that worked at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital for more than 25 years providing care for many children. They had always had the role of care providers until September 2020, when their 2-year-old son Jayden experienced his first seizure. Suddenly they found themselves seeking out the services of the hospital where they had dedicated their careers. Read this story.

Baby Girl Thriving Thanks to Investigational Treatment for Brain Tumors

Bruna was diagnosed with a rapidly growing brain tumor, called a ganglioglioma, when she was only three months old. Her parents worked tirelessly to find the care she needed in Bolivia where they live. Despite many obstacles, they were connected to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, where a clinical trial for ganglioglioma is underway. Read this story.

Almudena's Success Story

Almudena was only two years old when she was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor. Her mother Claudia first noticed there was something wrong when Almudena was experiencing excessive thirst, was having difficulty seeing, and was losing weight. She was referred to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital where she underwent chemotherapy for three months but the tumor was still growing and it needed to be removed. Read this story.

Matthew’s Epilepsy Success Story

My son, Matthew Reyes, was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was three and a half months old. To control his seizures, Matthew tried 11 different medications and was placed on the ketogenic diet. Unfortunately, none were successful in minimizing his seizures on a daily basis. This is called intractable epilepsy. Read this story.

Madeleine Becomes the First Patient Cured of Hypothalamic Obesity Using Novel Focused Ultrasound Treatment at Nicklaus Children's Hospital

At only six months old, Madeleine Morris was diagnosed with hypothalamic hamartoma, a rare, benign brain tumor that can cause various symptoms including hormone imbalances, epilepsy, behavioral disorders and, although rare, hypothalamic obesity. In 2017 Nicklaus Children's became the first hospital in the world to perform a focused ultrasound surgery on a pediatric patient with a hypothalamic hamartoma tumor. The entire family, including father  and her sister, flew to Miami from their home in London, England in 2019 for the life-changing procedure. Read this story.

Patient of the Month: Gabriel

Gabriel struggled with head pain, loss of balance, and more when his parents rushed to Nicklaus Children’s. He was diagnosed with an Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid tumor, and immediately underwent treatment. Now, he’s back on the field in more ways than one.

Read this story.

Brianna's Story

Brianna “Brie" Mestrovich was only 9 years old when she was diagnosed with pediatric cancer. The West Palm Beach native was referred to the Nicklaus Children's Palm Beach Gardens Outpatient center for an MRI because she was experiencing recurrent headaches that did not go away after several months. Read this story.

Sebastian's Fight

Sebastian was only 11 years old when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor, hydrocephalus and a teratoma. His mother Martha says she was shocked to learn her otherwise healthy son began experiencing headaches. Read this story.

Patient of the Month: Gianna

After noticing that her daughter was unable to crawl, stand, or do the things her friend's children were doing at six months of age, Idalmis decided that it was time to seek help. Sure enough, after some consultations and genetic testing, Idalmis' gut feeling was right. Read this story.

A Medical Miracle: Ayden's Story

After a normal full-term pregnancy with no complications, Shenequa gave birth to Ayden via C-section in May 2017 in the island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Shortly after, the baby's pediatrician detected a murmur, but with no pediatric cardiologist on the island, Ayden was airlifted to Nicklaus Children's Hospital.

Read this story.

A Winning Spirit: Aspen's Road to Recovery

11-year-old Aspen was playing in the water when she hit her head on the shallow ocean floor. The hit caused a fracture of the C-5 vertebrae in her neck. For three long months, Aspen wore a neck brace 24 hours a day as her doctor waited to see if her fracture would heal without surgery. Read this story.

The Muñoz Family Thank You Letter

My first impressions: the doctor was someone with a clear vision, extremely knowledgeable, caring, and well liked and respected by your colleagues.  Most importantly, someone willing to coordinate care across the country for Olivia. Read the Muñoz family's thank you letter to our neurosurgery team. Read this story.

Mason's Story: Nicklaus Children's Makes the Difference for Child with Traumatic Brain Injury

Seeing a baby boy intubated, hooked up to a maze of machines, and with IV pumps snaking out of his tiny arms is an incredibly heartbreaking and terrifying experience. The Nicklaus Children’s staff was not only caring and friendly, but knowledgeable and explained everything to us in detail. Meeting the neurosurgery team brought us great comfort because they were confident and calm—they won our trust immediately. Read this story.

Daniella Celebrates her Ninth Birthday by Advocating for Children’s Health

On this very same day nine years ago, Daniella Alvarez was diagnosed Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor (ATRT), a rare and aggressive type of brain cancer. The news came on June 26, 2009, her second birthday. Daniella endured years of brain surgeries, aggressive chemotherapies, radiation, imaging scans, multiple visits to intensive care at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. She is now cancer free thanks to a pediatric clinical trial made possible through research funding. Read this story.

New Device Helps Children with Drug-Resistant Epilepsy Manage Seizures

Grant is the first pediatric patient in South Florida to utilize the SenTiva VNS device, which is currently the smallest and lightest responsive therapy for epilepsy available on the market. The device, used in combination with epilepsy medications, has been shown to be effective in reducing seizure frequency and duration.  Read this story.

Patient of the Month: Frankie

What was supposed to be a fun day for Frankie and his sister with their uncle quickly took an unexpected and tragic turn. Frankie was kicked in the head by a horse at the ranch they were visiting, and he suffered a traumatic brain injury.  Read this story.

Patient of the Month: Lacy

Meet our July Patient of the Month, Lacy. Lacy was only 2 years old when her parents noticed that something was wrong. They took her to various doctors to try to find what could be the cause, Lacy had an 8 cm. tumor in her brain, occupying most of the lower part of her head. Read this story.

Asnay Stands Up to Cerebral Palsy

Asnay Machado is an ambitious Westland Senior High School student with dreams of becoming a lawyer one day. Asnay, who was born with cerebral palsy, recently enjoyed a boost in confidence thanks to a surgery at Nicklaus Children’s that has enabled him to stand up straight for the first time. Read this story.

A Healthy Life Ahead for Elias

The family shared video clips of the quirky movements with Elias' pediatrician. The doctor immediately sent them to the nearest emergency room, where they ran a number of tests. They soon learned Elias was suffering from seizures due to cortical dysplasia, a congenital malformation in the brain which can lead to pediatric epilepsy conditions. Read this story.

Hallie Travels Around the World for a Cure

Hallie McKeithen traveled all the way from China to undergo surgery at Nicklaus Children's Brain Institute to treat her seizures. Thanks to the treatment received, Hallie is now seizure free.  Read this story.

Soaring Through Life Seizure Free

At two month’s old, Hannah underwent brain surgery (a temporal, occipital parietal resection) at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital to relieve her of her constant seizure activity after medication did not provide relief. This rare procedure involves removing the affected part of the brain for patients with severe epilepsy disorders. The surgery proved to be a success. She was completely off medications by the age of one and has been seizure free since the operation. Read this story.

Patient of the Month: Astry

After Astry was born, her parents noticed that she wasn't progressing as babies typically do. She wasn't able to lift her head and she showed a lot of muscle weakness. Her pediatrician recommended they take her to see a neurologist, and so Astry's parents brought her to Nicklaus Children's Hospital. Read this story.

A New Life for Danuel

Danuel Snelgrove was struggling during his junior year of high school. The epileptic seizures that had begun when he was 12 were getting increasingly violent and frequent, forcing the South Carolina teen to leave school in the spring of 2003.

Read this story.

A Car Ride for Trevor

Neurosurgery procedure improves quality of life for 14-year-old, Trevor. Read this story.

Austin's Success Story

Austin was born blue, floppy and unresponsive. Immediately rushed to Nicklaus Children's Hospital, the nurses and doctors treated him back to health. Read this story.

Amanda's Emergency Success Story

Amanda was in a terrible car accident that caused her a traumatic brain injury. After three weeks in a coma and three brain surgeries, she is now a happy six year old attending kindergarten. Read this story.

Brenna's Brain Tumor Success Story

Brenna was diagnosed with a brain tumor in October of 2009. She was airlifted to Nicklaus Children's Hospital immediately following her diagnosis. Dr. David Sandberg, her neurosurgeon, was calm and clear about the treatment that was necessary for her recovery. Read this story.

Elena's Success Story

At age 11, Elena began having violent seizures that would not stop, even with medicine. She was being transported from school to the hospital at least once a week. In 2011, she was referred to Nicklaus Children's Hospital where doctors ran a number of tests and determined that surgery was the best option for her condition. She had two surgeries, one to map her brain and another to remove a cavernoma. Her recovery was quick and she has been seizure free ever since. Read this story.

Mirabel's Success Story

Just before her first birthday, little Mirabel began experiencing epileptic seizures that shattered early dreams of a normal childhood. After a 10-hour surgery a malfunctioning portion of the left parietal region of her brain that was causing the seizures was successfully removed. Read this story.

Brayden & Alaina's Success Story

Siblings Brayden and Alaina Grover, suffered from incessant and uncontrollable seizures since infancy. The medical team at Nicklaus Children's was able to treat them with medication and surgery, restoring hope to their parents. Read this story.

Lindsey's Success Story

Lindsey Kaufman was athletic and successful in school – a happy girl whose childhood had never suggested any medical challenges. So her parents were puzzled when, at age 10, Lindsey began experiencing small “blankouts,” her mind seeming to wander briefly before she resumed consciousness. Read this story.

Alex's Success Story

When Alex Rodriguez was 8 years old, he began experiencing numbness in his right hand, particularly when trying to grip a pencil. Alex’s mother, Lisi Guerrier, first assumed that her budding student was simply trying to dodge his homework. She was completely unprepared for a Broward neurologist’s diagnosis: Alex had a tumor in the left lobe of his brain, perilously close to the area that controlled his motor movement. Having heard about the world-renowned team at Nicklaus Children's Brain Institute, Ms. Guerrier brought Alex to see neurosurgeon Dr. David Sandberg in July 2006. Read this story.

Elizabeth's Success Story

Elizabeth began working for Nicklaus Children's Hospital in 1985. A past patient herself, during her time as an employee, both her daughters were patients, and she feels blessed to have offered tehm the best pediatric care. Read this story.

Asher's Success Story

Asher did not breathe for the first twelve to fifteen minutes after birth. Suspecting seizure activity following the asphyxia, the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) physician at Health Park recommended Asher be transported to Nicklaus Children's Hospital for the cutting edge cooling therapy being used to treat oxygen deprived patients.  Read this story.

Dana's Success Story

Dana was brought in after a fifty five minute grand mal seizure on July 11, 1976 (the day before I turned 6). Dana was brought in on a rescue truck, not an actual ambulance. Read this story.

Earl's Success Story

Earl was a former patient at Nicklaus Children's Hospital. In 1958, his mother brought him to Miami from Waycross, GA. He suffered from severe problems after being struck by a car in Waycross where we lived at the time. He was brought to what was known at that time as the Variety Children’s Hospital. His mother was a single parent and was told prior to coming that he would never walk again. Earl was diagnosed with Polio. Read this story.

Casey's Success Story

Casey was born on June 3, 1989 approximately four months premature and weighed less than 2 lbs. She was on ECMO for sixteen days, which is the longest at the time they have had an infant on it. Her lungs were so damaged that the biopsy samples they sent out for analysis were thought to be autopsy samples. She rode the Nicklaus Children's Hospital LifeFlight plane from Tampa to Miami and then back to St. Petersburg, and she was then transferred to All Children's Hospital. Read this story.

Jayden's Success Story

Jayden Garcia was born in January 2007 at Kendall Regional Hospital. He had just been released from the hospital before something strange and unexpected happened. He was sleeping and he started jerking and having a seizure. The seizure continued while he was sleeping. They put him in an incubator and took him to Nicklaus Children's Hospital, formerly Miami Children's Hospital, in an ambulance. Read this story.

Shannon's Brain Surgery Success Story

Shannon had brain surgery at Nicklaus Children's Hospital, formerly Miami Children's Hospital, in 2006-2007 and now receives periodic follow-up care from the Brain Institute. Directly after surgery, she went 10 months without a seizure while on medication. Read this story.

Amanda's Miracle Story

Amanda had a traumatic brain injury when she was 13 months old. She was airlifted to Miami Children, where the neurosurgeon on call was Dr. David Sandberg. Once in the hospital Dr. Sandberg and the wonderful team of doctors, nurses and staff saved her life. She had a craniotomy (brain surgery) and was in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) for three weeks. Read this story.

Stacie Marie's Success Story

Staci Marie was born a healthy child. One Saturday afternoon, she developed a high fever, and then became comatose for three months. When Staci awoke, she could not speak or walk. She had brain damage after contracting encephalitis. At age 6, Staci developed seizures, which were controlled until the age of 9. Then, she began having uncontrollable seizures that no doctor could seem to stop, and she almost died several times. Read this story.

Madeline's Success Story

Madeline Browne of Melbourne, Florida, was only 3 years old when she began having seizures. Following a successful surgery performed by neurosurgeon Dr. Sanjiv Bhatia to remove the diseased tissue, Madeline, now 10, has been seizure-free and has dazzled her family with her newfound maturity.  Read this story.

Renaldo's Epilepsy Success Story

A Miami grandmother trying to end her grandson’s seizures in Trinidad finds hope at Nicklaus Children's Hospital. Read this story.

Hunter's Success Story

Hunter was only 5-years-old when suddenly the once-sharp kindergartener could not recall whether he was eating breakfast or dinner. In March of 2009, Hunter’s parents learned that something was definitely wrong with their second-born son. Following their instinct, they made an appointment with Nicklaus Children's Hospital, formerly Miami Children's Hospital. That’s where Dr. Carlos Gadia, a pediatric neurologist, found a large tumor in Hunter’s brain. Hunter's family was told the tumor had been causing the seizures and the memory loss, and had to be removed quickly. Read this story.

Marco's Success Story

After meeting 5-year-old Marco, one would never guess that he once had a tumor the size of an orange in his brain. The bustling kindergartener had surgery at Nicklaus Children's Hospital to remove the tumor at only 17 months of age.Today, Marco is busy making puzzles, playing games, participating in sports and generally exceeding expectations in school. Read this story.

Patrick's Autism Success Story

Patrick was diagnosed with autism when he was 18 months old. Eighteen months later, through a series of therapies at Nicklaus Children's Hospital Dan Marino, Patrick is able to talk and interact with others. Read this story.

Brandon's Success Story

Brandon's future looked bright. He was a straight-A honor student at Pine Crest Preparatory School and, at just 15, Brandon was already a basketball legend in not only his local community—but nationwide as well. One day in February 2007, however, it looked like Brandon might never play basketball again. Read this story.

Melanie's Epilepsy Success Story

Little Melanie, then only 3, was seizing as often as 40 times per day and each would begin with a scream as the child anticipated the impending episode. Melanie's family was exhausted from the long battle to end her seizures and fearful, knowing the unchecked neural malfunction was affecting her growth and development.  Read this story.

Ruby's Success Story

Shortly after Ruby’s fourth birthday, she began having seizures. After thorough examinations by the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center team, it was decided a surgery would be needed to stop her seizures. Read this story.

Janessa's Success Story

A portion of Jannesa’s skull had been forced five and a half inches into her brain and she had an orbital fracture that threatened her right eye. Doctors advised that Jannesa be transported to Nicklaus Children's Hospital where a neurosurgeon and other specialists would be waiting for her. Read this story.

Ryan's Neurosurgery Success Story

Ryan had regular headaches, which were revealed to be caused by an arachnoid cyst embedded at the center of his brain. The doctors of Division of Neurosurgery at Nicklaus Children's successfully removed the cyst, restoring Ryan to his usual playful self. Read this story.

Sebastian's Cerebral Palsy Success Story

Sebastian was diagnosed with a severe case of cerebral palsy, a condition that causes difficulty with muscle control. In Sebastian’s case, it would make it nearly impossible to pass key milestones like chewing solid foods and walking. Read this story.

Alyssa's Success Story

Alyssa was born with myelomeningocele spina bifida, a birth defect in which the backbone and spinal canal do not close before birth. She had kidney surgery which was a great success, but had to return a week later due to an infection. Read this story.