2019's Friend of Pete - Will Merchant.
Will suffered a traumatic brain injury at the hands of a trusted adult when he was just 13 months old. Among various other medical difficulties including the lose of the entire right side of his brain, Will developed Hydrocephalus. Will’s mom Jessica shares Will’s story here:
William is a sweet, loving three year old. He loves to read books, play with toys, and get tickled by his parents. He also has hydrocephalus, in addition to over a dozen other diagnoses that were the result of abusive head trauma that was inflicted on him at daycare when he was 13 months old. The damage to his brain was so extensive that he lost over half of his brain matter, and his body was no longer able to process the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) being created all the time. During the 4.5 months he spent in the hospital following his injury, he required 10 surgeries, 3 of which were directly related to his shunt: placement, removal for a resistant bacterial infection, and replacement. Any time William did not have a shunt placed, he had an external drain coming directly out of his brain that allowed the CSF to flow out.
Since then, we have had many scares, one actual shunt malfunction, which required an “exploratory” brain surgery to locate and correct the blockage. Shunt malfunctions are terrifying; the symptoms for William are painfully obvious: he cries, vomits excessively, is extremely sleepy.
These scares and recurrent surgeries will be William’s (and our) constant companion until there is a real cure for hydrocephalus. While we are grateful for shunts, and for the ability to manage malfunctions before they are life threatening, a shunt is a band-aid that temporarily masks the problem. Shunts break and clog, children grow out of them and need new ones, and when you have a complex child with a traumatic brain injury, there are so many other things that could be (are) wrong that cannot be fixed, even with surgery (or extensive therapies, exercises, medications, etc.). We hate that he needs a shunt, and we worry that these periodic surgeries are going to be our constant companion for the foreseeable future - until there’s a true cure!
The Friend of Pete Fund was established to help provide aid and support to someone locally living with Hydrocephalus. Your donation is 100% tax deductible and will be given directly to the Merchant Family. Donations of $100 or more are considered a FOP sponsorship and your name will be displayed on hole #18 at the Putt with Pete Golf Event on June 17th (see photo below).