Help my hero fight hydrocephalus
by James Phillips
Oct 26, 2012 | 2137 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
James Phillips
James Phillips
slideshow
As a young person, I had my share of heroes.

Maybe I’m the only person who did this, but I tried hard to always say my prayers, eat my vitamins, train and believe in myself, because that’s what Hulk Hogan wanted his Little Hulksters to do.

I also attempted to learn how to play basketball with my tongue hanging out just like Michael Jordan or smash a baseball bat over my thigh like Bo Jackson. At least I was intelligent enough to come up with my own sports-related quirks after I bit my tongue a few times and suffered a pretty severe thigh bruise. Most of you probably haven’t heard of “the Flamingo” free throw shot, but the few of you who have are probably rolling on the floor laughing right about now.

In recent years, the heroes of my younger days have turned into mere mortals. Hogan is a shell of the athlete and person that he used to be; Jordan probably can’t even dunk a basketball any more; and after seeing Jackson at the Bo Bikes Bama event last year, he needs to be wearing a spandex biking outfit about as much as I do.

The only hero in my life these days is much tougher than those guys ever thought of being.

My hero is a 5-year-old, and his name is Addox Morrow. He’s also my nephew.

Addox has hydrocephalus and has been in and out of Children’s Hospital more times than I can keep up with in the last year.

Hydrocephalus is an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid with the ventricles of the brain. The disease affects hundreds of thousands of Americans, in every stage of life, from infants to the elderly. One to two of every 1,000 babies are born with hydrocephalus, making it as common as Down syndrome and more common than spina bifida or brain tumors. The disease is the most common reason for brain surgery in children.

There is no cure for hydrocephalus. There is no medical treatment. The only effective treatments are surgical. While many people are helped by surgery, many more need further operations to stay well. Of the more than 40,000 hydrocephalus operations performed annually (one every 15 minutes), only 30 percent are the patient’s first surgery to treat the disease.

Over the last 50 years, there has been no significant improvement in hydrocephalus treatment and no progress toward prevention or a cure. Research is essential. At the very least, we need better treatments, with more positive long-term outcomes, and diagnostic tests that are accurate, cost-effective and noninvasive.

Addox has suffered from hydrocephalus since birth. He’s a smart and energetic little guy that his Uncle James couldn’t be more proud of. In his young life, he’s already faced many surgeries and will no doubt face many more. Addox has had 10 brain surgeries in the last year.

The only way to help Addox and the more than one million Americans suffering from hydrocephalus is to pump funds into awareness and research of the disease. The most common treatment, surgically implanting a shunt into the brain, was developed in the 1950s. With today’s technology, new and innovative approaches to battling hydrocephalus need to be found.

The fifth annual Alabama Hydrocephalus Association Walk will take place Sunday, Nov. 11, at Heardmont Park off Cahaba Valley Road in Birmingham.

A team for Addox has already been started for the walk by his parents, Steven and Lauren Morrow. To be a part of the team, visit walk4hydro.kintera.org/alabama. Go to register and then select “join a team.” At that point a scroll down bar will point up and you should select Addox’s Rockstars. Fill out the information to join the team and you can also make a donation to the walk.

If you’d like to help with a donation and don’t want to join the team, contact me at the information below.

Addox is such a vibrant little guy, and he’s brought so much joy to our family. I thank God for him. He’s been a really sick fellow over the last year, and I had struggled with how I could help him. I’m not a doctor or a surgeon. I’m just a guy that can put words on a page.

If I can do that and help my buddy Addox, that’s what I’m going to do — and that’s exactly what I just did.

James Phillips is Editor of the Daily Mountain Eagle. He can be reached at 205-221-2840 or james.phillips@mountaineagle.com.