A world of support is flowing in for a young North Texas boy recovering from an emergency brain surgery.
Hawkins Null, 7, of Argyle was diagnosed at three months old with a chronic condition known as hydrocephalus, a build-up of fluid in the cavities deep within the brain. The excess fluid is known to increase the size of the ventricles, or cavities, putting pressure on the brain.
This required a shunt to be surgically implanted when he was just a baby.
“You wouldn’t know that he had hydrocephalus if you didn’t know. He’s been really, really fortunate in that a lot of our friends in the hydrocephalus community have much more severe outcomes or prognosis as a result,” his dad, Drew Null said. “With Hawk, he’s been really blessed he’s not experiencing any of that. He’s developed mentally, academically, emotionally. He’s chronologically on target or in some instances, he’s ahead of some of his peers.”
Photos: North Texas Boy Recovering From Brain Surgery Receives Outpouring of Support
Over the weekend, Hawkins had his first major medical episode since he was first diagnosed and was rushed to Cook Children’s in Fort Worth. Fluid from his brain wasn’t draining properly which caused pressure, his mom Sarah Null said.
“One of his eyes was looking inward,” she told NBC 5.
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Hawkins was prepped for emergency brain surgery shortly after he arrived at Cook Children’s, his parents said.
What started as a simple post on Facebook from his mother asking for prayers has transformed his hospital room. The walls are covered with more than 600 cards and posters from well-wishers in the community and beyond.
“We have some friends that have friends that are skiing in Switzerland up in the Alps and they said when they were up on the mountains, they left a chant for him. I don’t really know what that is, but it sounds really cool,” Drew said, chuckling.
The Hydrocephalus Association reports the condition as a whole is not necessarily rare with an estimated one million people in the U.S. affected, ranging from infants to seniors; however, for the Nulls and other families, surgery is the only option for treatment at this point.
According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the chronic condition can be controlled “but usually not cured”. With appropriate early treatment, however, the association says many people with hydrocephalus lead normal lives with few limitations.
“When you look at some of those other conditions in terms of governmental funding, like NIH funding, hydrocephalus gets fractions of research dollars compared to the other conditions,” Drew said. “Not that we want to take money away from those other conditions, because the research they’re doing is needed, but we need more for hydrocephalus.”
Until there is a cure and treatment outside of surgery, it’s support from the community that keeps the Null family going.
“It reminds us when he’s having a hard time or he’s having a migraine or he’s in a lot of pain...hey, keep on breathing. Look at all these people praying for you, look at all these people that have sent you cards, that are thinking about you, giving good vibes,” Sarah told NBC 5.
Hawkins is scheduled for another surgery on Friday. His family says if all goes to plan, he could be released from the hospital this weekend.