05/03/07 — Benefit Saturday for baby trying to beat brain disease

View Archive

Benefit Saturday for baby trying to beat brain disease

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on May 3, 2007 1:45 PM

The Rosewood community is banding together Saturday to help the family of a 9-month-old boy suffering from brain disease.

Ryan Hooks has had three surgeries to help correct his condition, which doctors describe as hydrocephalus, or excess fluid in the brain, and an arachnoid cyst, a fluid-filled sac between the brain and an important membrane that covers the brain and the spinal cord.

A community festival to help raise money to defray some of Ryan's family's medical bills will be held from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Rosewood Junction.

Children can enjoy pony rides, inflatable slides and face-painting. Anyone with a sweet tooth or the need to shop can buy something at the bake sale or poke through the massive yard sale that has been planned.

Wayne County Sheriff Carey Winders will be on hand from 10 to 11 a.m., sitting in a dunking booth as part of the fundraising effort.

Also, T-shirts will be available for sale and chances will be sold on a drawing for a new rifle.

Ryan is the son of Michael and Lee Hooks.

Doctors first noticed problems shortly before Ryan was born in August. He underwent his first surgery shortly after birth and the family has been told that further surgeries are likely.

Insurance won't cover some of Ryan's needed medicines and physical therapy, so friends and neighbors decided they would jump in and help out.

The fluids in Ryan's skull put pressure on his pituitary glands and pushed his brain to different parts of the skull. Some of those initial complications damaged Ryan's pituitary glands, which has weakened his immune system.

Doctors initially did what they could for Ryan to treat the hydrocephalus by placing a shunt system in his skull. A shunt is a flexible silicone rubber tube with a valve that creates an artificial channel to allow the excess fluid to flow away from the brain and into another part of the body, where it is absorbed.

The system has decreased the size of Ryan's skull and alleviated the fluids, but Ryan still has trouble sitting up and holding his head up, Lee said. The excess fluids also hindered Ryan's sight and hearing, but doctors will not know how much he is affected until he is older.

In the meantime, Ryan receives physical therapy twice a week and more when he is cared for by friends and family. He also has to continue to take several medications to keep his immune system strong and continue to treat his ailments.

And he continues to make progress despite the concern of his doctors.

"We were told he may never walk, see, hear and everything else. He's overcome so much and we continue to hope that he will come out on top," his mother said.

Despite the medical problems, family friends say Ryan is a happy child.

"He is such a sweet guy. He's always happy and smiling," Amber Capps said.

Members of the Rosewood community are urging people from across the Wayne County to attend Saturday's event and help. His parents say they are thankful to live in a community with such caring people.

"Everyone's been wonderful. We couldn't ask for anymore. It's really been overwhelming," Mrs. Hooks said.