Four-year-old Bratt resident needs your help

Published 8:10 pm Monday, January 9, 2006

By By Janet Little Cooper
The Bible says in James 1: 17 that "Every good and perfect gift is from above." Parents of four year old, Bryant McDonald as well as his grandparents certainly agrees.
Bryant, the son of Jason and Tracey McDonald of Bratt, was born with seven brain malformations including, Hydrocephalus, seizure disorder and agenesis of the Corpus Colusum.
The young child's medical journey began when he underwent his first surgery at only one and half years old. The surgery was intended to monitor the pressure in his head.
"His first surgery was followed by another surgery to reduce the pressure that was hindering his development," mother Tracey McDonald said. "This surgery, Endoscopic Third Ventriculasomy, was not successful, so he had two additional surgeries to place a VP shunt to reduce the pressure. These surgeries were all within three months of each other. After the VP shunt, Bryant made marked improvements in his function and cognitive well being."
For at least three years, Bryant's brain has been studied for a lobotomy, which would hopefully relieve him from all seizure activity. The study, which began in Pensacola, Fla., was transferred to Miami, Fla., after being deemed too complex for the local facility.
From Miami, Bryant was sent to Birmingham, where doctors discovered that he was having an average of 8 seizures a minute.
On June 20, 2005 neurologist and neurosurgeons removed the "bad" part of Bryant's brain in order to reduce the number of seizures by at least 80 percent.
"Bryant had to have only one pint of blood and recovered much more quickly than imagined," McDonald said. "He was at the Birmingham Zoo only five days after the lobotomy. God is so good! He remained seizure free for four and half glorious months. What a blessing. The seizures did come back, but he is again seizure free of them for more than two months. Praise the Lord!"
The family is waiting and praying on the results of a study done on Bryant to be certain that enough of the "bad" brain was removed.
"Bryant is a very special gift from God," grandmother Linda Gibson said. "We couldn't ask for a sweeter more precious child. It is through the work of God that he is where he is. His medical folder is so thick and doctors can't believe he is the same child they have read about in his records when they see him. He should be a vegetable, but we would not accept that. We believe in God and in miracles. We give God all the credit. We know that God's hands are in Bryant's life."
For now, the young child is doing well enough that he has been accepted as a candidate for a therapy program called Adeli Intensive Suit Therapy. The therapy intended to help children with Cerebral Palsy is new to the United States and is not covered by insurance.
The program, a four-week session, runs for five days a week, four hours each day. The cost per four-week session is $8,000, which does not include housing or food during the four-week period. The therapy will be held in Macon, Ga.
"We will be traveling to Macon week by week," McDonald said. "I will take Bryant one week and Jason the next week, so we will each continue to work and keep in good standing there."
Bryant walks now with the aid of plastic braces he wears on his legs and a Rifton gait trainer (walker). The lobotomy blinded his right vision field in each eye causing him to wear glasses. He undergoes physical, occupational and speech therapy every week, which includes four days at Sacred Heart in Pensacola and Sid Nelson Preschool as well as one day in Bay Minette for Hippo Training, which involves horseback riding for one hour.
"We are on a super tight budget now because of Bryant's therapy five days a week," McDonald said. "The insurance only covers a portion and we average paying at least $600 out of pocket for that now. Times are hard, but the outcome will be well worth all of our efforts and hardships."
A benefit supper has been planned at David's Catfish on Jan. 23, 2006 to help the McDonald's cover the expenses associated with Bryant's therapy.
The young couple both work as school teachers in Escambia County, Fla. Jason is a coach and Driver's Education teacher at Pine Forest High School in Pensacola and Tracey works part-time at Pine Meadows Elementary as a third grade teacher.
They recently welcomed home a new addition to the family, another son, Jackson who is now four months old. The couple attends Atmore First Assembly of God Church in Atmore.
"Bryant is making wonderful progress now and after the intense therapy in Macon we are sure to see marked improvements beyond our dreams," McDonald said. "We believe that God will guide us in making all of the right decisions for Bryant's health and healing."
Bryant is the grandson of Mike and Linda Gibson of Bratt, Fla., Doodle and Charlotte McDonald of Atmore and David and Devra White of Pensacola, Fla.

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