White to Gray: The Hyperbaric Way

The nursery is decorated. The tiny clothes are washed and folded. The hospital bag is packed. Becoming a parent is simultaneously one of the most beautiful and scariest moments that we may encounter in our lives. Many parents understand the joys of having a child as something they wouldn’t trade for all the riches in the world.

Denny and Charli were eager to begin the next chapter of their lives with their new son. From the moment they received the news that they were expecting, they couldn’t wait to hold their new bundle of joy. They were thrilled when Kye was born on January 23, 2014, a beautiful, healthy baby boy. Unfortunately, that joy soon turned to terror when, shortly after his birth, Kye began to exhibit signs of seizures.

Doctors used a cooling blanket on Kye in hopes of decreasing the amount of cerebral edema, or swelling, around his brain. This cold blanket reduced Kye’s core temperature from 98 degrees to 91 degrees over a period of 72 hours, triggering a protective hypothermia in hopes of preventing further brain damage.

During this time, Kye continued to suffer additional seizures and stopped breathing numerous times. Once the cooling process was complete, Kye’s body was warmed back to normal temperature. Doctors then performed an MRI and an EEG to get a better picture of what was going on inside his little head. After reviewing Kye’s first MRI, Denny and Charli were given the terrifying news that virtually his entire brain was damaged and consisted only of white brain matter. Doctors could find no evidence of any gray brain matter.

The primary function of gray matter is to carry sensory information that comes from grey matter cells and sensory organs. This information is then passed to the areas of the brain that process sensory information. Intelligence and skill are often attributed to this brain matter, largely because it covers so much of the brain. Unlike white matter, gray matter is crucial in the development of muscle control, cognition (such as how things are seen and heard or the formation of memories) as well as speech and emotions. The fact that Kye’s brain did not possess any gray matter did not bode well for any potential development.

When Kye was released from the hospital, he was placed on two seizure medications as he continued to experience subclinical seizures every day. His parents were given a very uncertain and disheartening prognosis for what Kye’s future and quality of life was going to be.

From the moment they heard the news of his first MRI, Denny and Charli both agreed that they would do anything in their power to provide their son with the best possible outcome and chance for a bright future. They began to research Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and learned of its successes in treating children with traumatic brain injuries who suffer from seizures. Unfortunately, they were warned against doing HBOT treatments with Kye and told that it was a complete waste of time.

When Kye first arrived at Sara’s Garden for treatments, he had not yet achieved any of his development milestones. He wasn’t looking around or tracking movement. He wasn’t making facial expressions or clasping his hands around objects. All indications were that Kye wasn’t responding to outside stimuli and was neurologically blind.

Early on in Kye’s treatments, his parents and family began noticing changes taking place. He was becoming aware of things going on around him. He began responding to touch and tracking movement. His motor functions improved as well as he began crossing midline and reaching for and grasping his bottle. One particular evening, Charli received a telephone call. When she went to answer her cell phone she noticed that the glow of the screen had caught Kye’s attention and he began following the movement of the phone. She was so excited as Kye had never before done anything like this.

Kye is now hitting all of his development milestones. According to Kye’s parents, his Occupational and Physical Therapists have been nothing but thrilled with the progress he has made. Miraculously, Kye’s last EEG came back completely normal! In fact, tests now show that his brain does indeed consist of gray brain matter everywhere it is supposed to be. Seeing Kye make such amazing progress has been very exciting to Denny and Charli. They are so thankful that Kye’s development is turning out much differently than what they were originally told.

Kye is actually progressing so well now that doctors have a hard time distinguishing the difference between Kye and a “typical” baby. Denny and Charli believe they owe so much of Kye’s progress to the Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy treatments that Kye received at Sara’s Garden.

For Denny and Charli, it’s been a long year filled with uncertainty and apprehension. Thanks to Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy at Sara’s Garden, Denny and Charli no longer fear what Kye’s quality of life will be and have renewed dreams for his future. No matter what you’ve been told, there is hope… for this and many other conditions. HBOT is treatment without drugs… without surgery… without pain.

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