Blaine boy back home after brain surgery

By Stefanie Donahue

After years of battling powerful headaches, poor concentration, skewed vision and unsteady coordination, 11-year-old Brayden Large is finally feeling better.

Last month, parents Jeff and Jessica Large took Brayden from Blaine to Houston, Texas, where he underwent surgery to remove a pineal cystic tumor located at the center of his brain. Texas-based neurosurgeon Dr. Dong H. Kim performed the surgery on Brayden, his youngest patient to undergo the procedure to date.

“He feels better than he has in years,” Jessica said. “He’s a kid again.”

Jessica and Brayden Large in Houston. Brayden’s story was the focus of an in-depth report in the Houston Chronicle. Here’s where to find it: Photo courtesy of Jessica Large.

Brayden began struggling with his health about two years ago, Jessica said. He started getting severe headaches and had trouble maintaining balance and concentration in school. Jeff and Jessica correlated early symptoms with a sports-related concussion, but they just got worse. In December 2016, Brayden was diagnosed with a pineal cystic tumor.

The tumor was benign, but Jessica and Jeff felt it was imperative to get it removed because it was impacting Brayden’s vital functions and day-to-day life. Attending school, for example, became extremely challenging and Brayden was only able to attend about two days a week.

After friends and family caught word of Brayden’s impending surgery, they stepped up to lend a hand. An online crowdfunding campaign posted to YouCaring raised upwards of $8,000, another $2,000 was raised through private donations and a small fundraiser at Lizzie’s Café, Jessica said.

“We felt so loved by everybody,” she said. “You can only get a response like this in Blaine.”

Jessica said the surgery went according to plan and Brayden is recovering swiftly. While total recovery time is an estimated six months, his doctors seem impressed with his progress, she said.

“If he was a 30-year-old man, he wouldn’t even be out of bed yet,” she said. “We’re seeing this huge difference

Despite a few hiccups here and there, Brayden is taking several strides forward. A few times a week, two teachers from the Blaine school district stop by for about 45 minutes or so to continue his education. Jessica hopes he’s able to start the sixth grade in the fall, but said time will tell.

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