Donaven Hookano, 15 years of age, was experiencing head pain, vision loss in his left eye and convulsive seizures when Malia Solomon received the call from her son's school. The diagnosis: hemorrhaging in his brain caused by a cavernous angioma, a potentially fatal or debilitating condition. The decision was made to transfer Donaven from a Las Vegas hospital, to UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital, where he could be treated by neurosurgeon, Dr. Jorge Lazareff.
Cavernous angiomas can occur anywhere in the central nervous system and affect, 1 in 100-200 people between the ages of 20 to 30 years. About 11 percent of cases are asymptomatic, but symptoms can include weakness in the arms or legs; vision loss; balance, memory and attention problems; or headaches, seizures, stroke, and hemorrhages. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used to diagnose the condition. In Donaven's case, the clusters of abnormal blood vessels made up of little bubbles (caverns), were filled with blood, causing hemorrhaging in his brain.
Dr. Lazareff and his team surgically removed the abnormal coil of blood vessels from Donaven's brain using brain mapping during a craniotomy, or opening of the skull, which is performed under general anesthesia. After nine hours of successful surgery and two days of recovery, Donaven was able to walk out of the hospital.
"I experienced the compassion and love that employees at UCLA have for their patients and family members. I have not seen this type of care in a long time. Parents should know that there is a place they can feel their child is safe and well cared for. I owe everything to Dr. Lazareff and the teams at UCLA for their support," says Malia.
The whole experience convinced Malia and her husband, Logan Hookano, to pull up their roots in Las Vegas and move to Los Angeles to be a part of the UCLA family and to help other families experience the kind of "comfort, care and love" they received from Dr. Lazareff and his team. "I would walk to the end of the world for my son, and if UCLA was in China, we would be in China now," says Logan.
Malia is now a surgical technician for UCLA's Jules Stein Eye Institute and Logan is a cook in the Department of Nutrition at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. And Donaven is a thriving teenager with his own dreams for the future. To learn more about cavernous angiomas visit the UCLA Pediatric Neurosurgery program.