MIAMI (CBSMiami) – There are few things more frightening for a parent than a doctor telling you your child needs brain surgery. That was the reality for a South Florida family earlier this year, whose daughter got that diagnosis at Holtz Children's Hospital.
Sasha Gadea looked like any other 13-year-old kid who loved the surf, the sand and her friends.
But then, in the blink of an eye, her entire world was turned upside down.
A series of headaches and blurred vision led to a diagnosis of something called AVM. The giant vein malformations in her brain put her very life in peril.
"Arterial vein malformations are so risky because they can rupture," explained Dr. Heather McCrea, a pediatric neurosurgeon at U Health. "And when they rupture, you can have a very large bleed, which can be life-threatening or cause major neurological symptoms, including the loss of ability to move, loss of ability to talk."
And because Sasha's case was also complicated by three aneurysms in her brain, her outcome did not look promising.
"For her case, her AVM was so large a lot of hospitals would deem it non-treatable," said Dr. Robert Starke, a neurosurgeon at U Health.
But not by doctors at U Health, who were able to combine a minimally invasive treatment with traditional surgery to save Sasha's life.
"We did an endovascular treatment to block some of the aneurysms and reduce some of the flow to the AVM, and then the next day, we did the surgery to remove the AVM," Dr. Starke said.
After a short time in hospital, Sasha is now pain free and back to being just like every other kid.
"It was worth it cause now my grades are better than they were and at least I have a new perspective on life," she said.
And she has a very long life to look forward to.
Doctors said they're confident they got all of the AVM.
And except for routine follow-ups, Sasha should be perfectly fine.
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