Video Transcript: Teen Girl Survives Leukemia and Brain Aneurysm

Pediatric Neurosurgery

Video Transcript: Teen Girl Survives Leukemia and Brain Aneurysm

Only a few years removed from a leukemia diagnosis, Marissa and her family were devastated to learn she had a grade 5 brain aneurysm. With a 5 percent chance of survival, American Family Children's Hospital physicians rushed her to the operating room for emergency surgery.

Video and Transcript

Watch our video or read the video transcript below:

>> Remember how we have done that one?

>> One of Marissa's favorite activities is drawing. The figure she draws most often is the cross

>> I think it's a symbol of faith.

>> That faith and the expertise of her caregivers at American Family Children's Hospital has helped 14-year-old Marissa and her family survive two life threatening illnesses. The first happened at age 6, when Marissa was diagnosed with leukemia.

>> It was awful. It was heartbreaking.

>> I don't remember if my mom or I like grabbed a piece of my hair and it just came out in clumps so - and that was hard for me, my mom and my grandpa.

>> Marissa went through two and a half years of treatment at American Family Children's Hospital and today, she's cancer free; but in June of 2009, another life threatening event.

>> I just remember I woke up from dead sleep and told my mom that I had a excruciating headache and it wouldn't go away.

>> Darla took Marissa to a local hospital but after a seizure, she was Med-flighted to American Family Children's Hospital. Darla didn't know it but her daughter had a grade 5 brain aneurysm.

>> Only 5% survive the grade 5 hemorrhage with moderate or minor disabilities so when it happens, the grade 5 is very fatal.

>> Neurosurgeons Dr. Mustafa Baskaya and Benny Iskandar, along with their team were ready to try and save Marissa's life but in a matter of minutes, her prognosis got even worse.

>> Then as I leaned down to kiss her, she coded. And they said now she's got a 2% chance of surviving. So he gave us the opportunity to -- we could either go in and kiss her and say goodbye or we -- they could take her right then and they had to have a decision right now.

>> This is a heroic attempt. If you don't do anything, for sure she's going to die. If you do it and if you do it right, she may survive but until we try, we won't know.

>> She'd already beat cancer and I just -- I knew she could do it. What my other option was to go in and say goodbye.

>> Darla put her faith in a surgical team and then prayed for a positive outcome. Normally a procedure like Marissa's takes several hours but her condition gave the team just minutes to save her life.

>> Everything was done within 30, 40 minutes. Everybody was doing their part without talking, OR nurses, OR scrub tech, us, one of us making the incision, other one was doing something else. All I remember opening the skull, opening the membrane, I just clip and clip and retract the brain and can suck the blood from the brainstem and that suddenly brought all her functions back.

>> It was supposed to be a three, four hour surgery and they come back both of them walking down the hall and just, you know, not upset, not anything, they're just walking down the hall, smiles on their face and said that she's doing good. I think we're okay. We don't know how she's going to turn out. We don't know if she'll ever walk, talk.

>> And in two days, she start moving her arms and her legs and day three, she start following commands.

>> And they're my heroes. [ Music ]