Carston Purdue was transferred to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at just two days old. “The diagnosis when we first got to Children’s was very grim,” says Carston’s dad, Brian. “They told us he’d had a brain hemorrhage after birth and that was causing hydrocephalus or increased fluid in the brain. He was having continuous seizures, which they were extremely worried about.”
“Our bodies make fluid on a daily basis and you’re supposed to recycle every drop of that fluid,” says pediatric neurosurgeon Barunashish Brahma, MD. “Children with hydrocephalus make the same amount of fluid, but they don’t recycle it appropriately. Most of these children require some form of treatment to take the fluid away from the brain and relieve pressure.”
The team in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) worked tirelessly to fine tune Carston’s medications and stabilize his brain pressure. After 70 days in the hospital, overcoming many hurdles along the way, Carston showed improvement and was finally cleared to go home.
The homecoming, unfortunately, was short-lived. Carston returned to the Children’s emergency room five days later with what doctors soon diagnosed as meningitis, an infection in the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. The only way to treat the infection and to prevent fluid from once again accumulating in Carston’s brain was to place a shunt or tube into the brain.
“Other doctors thought Carston should have a shunt right after diagnosis,” says Carston’s mom, Laura. “Dr. Brahma was patient. He was willing to give Carston’s brain a chance rather than rush into surgery because a shunt is a permanent thing. I really appreciated that.”
“After Carston got meningitis, Dr. Brahma said, ‘We have to do the shunt.’
And I trusted him,” says Brian. “We did it and it’s made all the difference. He’s a totally new baby.”
From eating solid foods to crawling and walking, 18-month-old Carston is surpassing expectations. “There’s something special about him,” says Brian. “He’s a fighter, our Superman. It’s almost like he knows he was given a second chance.”
Laura and Brian, too, have a second chance. Carston’s determination has given them both a new outlook. “I don’t see life the same anymore,” says Brian. “I don’t take things for granted.”
“I know now that my contribution to this world is not going to be a plaque on the wall,” adds Laura. “It’s going to be a little boy who taught me about fighting and what is really important in life.”