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Maddie is Our Living Miracle

On the night of September 30, 2015, our 11 year-old daughter, Maddie, started having uncontrollable seizures. My husband, Brad, and I rushed her to John Muir Medical Center, Walnut Creek, and it was determined that she had a brain tumor that needed to be removed right away. Six days later, she had brain surgery, and ten days after that, she was dancing and laughing at my sister’s wedding. I know this sounds impossible, but thanks to her incredible care team at John Muir Health’s pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), Maddie is our living miracle.

After she was stabilized in the ED, Maddie was transported to the PICU, where her entire care team – the pediatric intensivists, neurosurgeon, oncologist, nurses and child life specialist—was amazing. They included us in every conversation, every test result and every decision about what to do next.

When the time came for her brain surgery, I never asked pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. David Hong to avoid shaving Maddie’s head, or how she would look afterwards, but he painstakingly shaved as little as possible at the incision site, leaving as much of her hair intact so she would look like “her” for the wedding, just days away. A nurse also told me that Dr. Hong had carefully combed her hair before surgery, so Maddie could cover her incision when she woke up. Her recovery was remarkable, and we went home two days after the procedure.

Maddie attended the wedding with her hair glamorously styled so that no one could tell she had brain surgery only ten days prior. The mass in her brain turned out to be cancerous, so Maddie continues to be followed closely by Dr. Hong and pediatric oncologist Dr. Jay Balagtas. We are eternally grateful for the remarkable care we all received at John Muir Health.


-Michelle Gerrard, M.D., Benicia resident

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