Revolutionary procedure may provide hope for two-year old twin with cerebral palsy

A set of parents in the UK has found new hope for giving their son a higher quality of life by opting for surgery to assist with his spastic diplegia cerebral palsy. Thanks to a revolutionary procedure in the United States, the child may be able to walk.

Dee Buchanan gave birth to her twin boys, Callum and Mitchell Buchanan, 12 weeks premature due to a potentially fatal condition known as twin-to-twin transfusion.

The condition occurs when a pair of identical twins shares a placenta and thus a singular blood supply. In this condition, one child naturally receives more blood than the other, leaving one infant deprived of the blood needed for proper development and one over-saturated, which bears its own risks.

The evidence of this condition was first seen at Buchanan’s 20-week appointment when the medical team noticed a problem with Mitchell’s growth. This prompted her medical team to have her closely monitored from 26-weeks forward.

“Up until 20  weeks, it had been a normal pregnancy, then they noticed a problem with Mitchell’s growth,” said Dee Buchanan. “He was not keeping up with Callum so they wanted to keep a closer eye on me.”

The boys were delivered three months premature in Southhampton, UK. As they were so premature, the medical team quickly performed brain scans on both of the twin boys. Results showed that while Mitchell was perfectly healthy, Callum had a brain injury diagnosed as periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), a common precursor to cerebral palsy.

“When Callum was diagnosed, I took it in stride because I was prepared. I knew he would need extra care and would need physiotherapy and possibly surgery,” said Buchanan.

“It was PVL that caused Callum’s cerebral palsy. It could have been triggered by lack of oxygen. They tell me what caused the PVL, but it was a traumatic birth so it may have been that,” she concluded.

At eight-months old, Callum Buchanan was officially diagnosed with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, a particularly difficult form of the condition that affects the communication between the muscles and the brains. As a result, Callum experiences persistent tightening and cramping in his lower body, making it impossible for the now two-year old to crawl or walk.

“Mitchell can sit, crawl, walk, run, get himself up and down stairs. Callum has no mobility at all without being assisted. He can sit on the floor if he is supported but he can’t crawl or kneel. He has no balance,” Buchanan said.

“Callum is already starting to notice the differences between what he and Mitchell can do. Surgeons in the UK would not look at Callum until he was four and a half, and they wouldn’t operate until he was five. The younger they get the operation the better. I don’t want him to grow up feeling different to his twin,” she added.

A surgeon in the United States is providing hope for Callum and his family, however. Pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. T.S. Park at St. Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri will perform a revolutionary surgery on Callum in June which may give the two-year old the ability to walk.  The procedure, known as Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) will try to remove the abnormal nerve fibers that cause the miscommunication between the brain and the muscles. Dr. Park hopes that the surgery will result in a better balance of spinal cord activity and Callum having better mobility.

The Buchanans heard of the surgery when another patient at Callum’s hospital improved dramatically. Callum was approved to undergo the surgery and the Buchanans quickly began raising the US$114,500 required to pay for the procedure and stay in the United States. Currently, they have raised almost half of that amount.

Twin-to-twin transfusion and oxygen deprivation are common and unfortunate birth injuries that not only cause the infant considerable distress, but can also lead to more serious conditions like cerebral palsy. These birth injuries are often preventable, and can result from medical errors and negligence on the part of the medical team. If your child suffered from a birth injury and/or is now suffering from cerebral palsy, contact experienced birth injury and cerebral palsy attorney Jeffrey Killino today. He can guide you through the legal process and ensure your receive any compensation you are entitled to. Contact Jeffrey Killino today.