Teen has miraculous recovery after life-threatening brain injury

Teen has miraculous recovery after life-threatening brain injury

His football team was trailing, so Amir Fakhari played his hardest, running and tackling each quarter to help his squad fight their way back. Despite his efforts though, Highland Park High School lost the game that night in September, and Amir walked off the field not feeling well.

According to his mom, Batool Shaker, he told her several times that evening that something was not right, and he couldn’t even bring himself to shake hands with the opposing team. Then he collapsed on the sideline.

An ambulance immediately was called, and Amir was rushed to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill., the only Level 1 Trauma Center in Lake County, because the paramedics suspected his injury was severe. They stabilized Amir and notified Advocate Condell’s trauma services.

When Dr. William Watson, trauma director at Advocate Condell, received the call, he anticipated the urgency of the case and contacted neurosurgeon Dr. Jonathan Citow.

“When I arrived, the scans were up, and the patient was prepped and ready in the OR,” says Dr. Citow. “He had been stabilized, but patients in these situations with a fixed and dilated pupil have only about a 1 percent chance of a reasonable recovery.”

Amir was diagnosed with an acute, left-sided subdural hematoma. This is when veins stretch and tear between the surface of the brain and its outer covering, causing blood to collect and increase pressure on the brain. It often occurs due to a severe head injury.

During surgery, Dr. Citow removed a piece of Amir’s skull, which the trauma team surgically placed into the tissue of the patient’s belly for safe and sterile keeping. Then, Dr. Citow removed the brain hemorrhage.

Amir pulled through, and beat the odds.

“I was told if it had taken even just two minutes longer to get Amir to Condell, the outcome could have been so much worse,” says Amir’s mother.

He was transferred to Advocate Condell’s intensive care unit, where his recovery progressed. With a portion of his skull removed, his brain freely expanded with expected swelling and continued to heal.

Eventually, Amir reached a point in his recovery to be discharged to rehabilitation, where he continues improving.

“He is walking and talking and functioning well. His speech and memory are normal, and his strength has almost fully returned. Additionally, his brain has returned to a relatively normal size and shape,” says Dr. Citow. “He is in rehabilitation therapy now and is beginning studies with a tutor.”

Dr. Citow will perform a surgery again in January 2017 to reattach the portion of Amir’s skull that he removed in September.

On November 29, just five days after Thanksgiving, Amir had his 16th birthday. He was invited to Advocate Health Care’s Man Up! Bulls Game on November 30, where he celebrated with his family.

He is now looking forward to returning to school after his surgery in January.

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About the Author

Natasha Taylor
Natasha Taylor

Natasha Taylor, health enews contributor, is a public affairs and marketing coordinator at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill. She has over 10 years of communications experience working for various nonprofits throughout Chicagoland. Outside of work she spends her time working with teens and young adults with developmental disabilities through Young Life Capernaum. She also enjoys all things food related, attending concerts, and being active through running, biking and snowboarding with her husband.

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