“If he hadn't gotten to us quickly, he would've died,” his surgeon said.
Last November, 13-year-old Ethan Brautigam had the worst headache of his life while taking a shower. He reached for a towel and cried out for his mother, Erin Brautigam. Because Brautigam had experienced migraines, she surmised that her son may be experiencing one right now. She wasn't too startled when he puked. She asked him whether he needed to go to the emergency room after he was lying down, and he advised her to phone 911, according to PEOPLE. "He was panicking. He said, ‘My head hurts, my head hurts. Something's wrong with my head’,” recalled the mother.
"I know migraine can make you feel really crappy and make you throw up. So I wasn't freaking out yet. And I remember, I think I said, 'Seriously?' And he's like, 'Yeah.' And so I said, 'Okay,' " said the mother as she shared her reaction to her son’s request to call the helpline. Ethan began to have a seizure, and the right half of his face drooped, all while his mother was on the phone with a dispatcher. "It was like it melted, I was freaking out," she revealed.
The kid was sent to Texas Children's Hospital, where doctors discovered a tangle of blood arteries called an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) in his right temporal lobe that had ruptured.
His brain was bleeding as a result of the rupture. The surgeon of the young boy, Dr. Samuel McClugage III, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Texas Children's Hospital and assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine said, “If he hadn't gotten to us quickly, he would've died,” according to Texas Children’s organization. Luckily, Ethan's mother was with him when it burst at 7:20 a.m. and she swiftly transported him to the hospital. At 12:30 p.m., he was brought into surgery.
To relieve the strain on Ethan's head caused by the extra blood and spinal fluid, an external ventricular drain was implanted. Ethan was intubated throughout the surgery so that he couldn't talk when he awoke. He requested a pen and sent letters to his mother stating, “I love you so much," and "Thank you." Ethan remained in the hospital for a month while a group of professionals decided what to do. The AVM was removed by McClugage on December 22 after a 13-hour surgery. McClugage said there is a little risk that it would rupture again, but if it does, it could be deadly.
A friend also started a GoFundMe Page to raise funds for Ethan's medical expenses.
On New Year's Eve, when Ethan was released from the hospital, more than 200 of his friends lined the streets of his Woodlands, Texas, neighborhood, waving banners, confetti, and cowbells. Ethan, who just turned 14 in March, is back in eighth grade and has even joined the golf team. But gets worn out from a long day of school. He's still putting on the weight that he lost while hospitalized. "It can be a very challenging surgery, but he went very well. We were able to get the entire thing out," McClugage said post the successful surgery of the young fighter.
His mom says, "Listen to your kids. The moral of this story is: If your kid tells you to call 911 — call 911."
Cover Image Source: GoFundMe