DETROIT (WXYZ) — It takes a special kind of love for families to become foster parents, and even more so when a foster parent goes on to give a child a forever home.
For one woman whose son was developmentally delayed due to drugs in his system at birth. Her journey with him went much further. Multiple seizures every day until surgeons at Children's Hospital of Michigan in Detroit used a robot to perform brain surgery gave them both a remarkable new take on life.
Jackie Gant's life seemed incomplete until she found a child to share it with. She became a foster mom to little Damian at 3 weeks old.
"Life started out as any other life would be with a newborn: admiring him, holding him, teaching him, feeding him,” Gant said.
But by 3 to 4 months old, a neurologist would confirm he would have developmental delays. It would take two years for her to adopt him.
“Just continue to love him, nurture him, put him in good schools — just did what I could as a mom that my child would have a good quality of life,” Gant said.
Then Gant learned Damian suffers from an epileptic condition known as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. He would suffer from four different types of seizures.
Dr. Neena Marupudi of Children's Hospital of Michigan Detroit would treat Damian.
“Typically, cannot be controlled with medications and even from a surgical standpoint, it can be difficult to offer treatments because there are so many types of seizures,” Marupudi said.
The worst known as drop seizures meant Damian could fall without warning.
“They just fall. They could be standing there with you, he could just fall out,” Marupudi said. “He loses control and just drops or falls and loses complete control of his body.”
At age 8, he went into the hospital for a seizure that did not stop for three days, and it put him in a coma for three days.
“I did not know if he would survive. It was truly terrible,” Gant said.
Marupudi approached Gant about Damian, having the first pediatric Corpus Callosotomy surgery.
“They told me he was the perfect candidate, and they did not have to go in and open his skull,” Gant said.
It's a type of brain surgery using laser ablation, which is less invasive and done with a brain robot.
“Now we're looking at robot assisted and laser assisted with the use of a robot, so now we don't even need to make even more than a couple of millimeter incisions in order to complete the entire procedure,” Marupudi said.
Before using robots, surgeons would remove a part of the bone from the skull to expose the brain. Recovery would be long with weeks in the hospital but with this robotic surgery, Damian returned home the same day.
“My son can crawl, my son now wants to learn to walk. He's standing up on his own. He's only had about 12 seizures since the surgery May 31st,” Gant said.
For Gant who loves Damian more than life itself, the turnaround is simply remarkable.
“He isn't a normal child as we would see him playing on the playground, but he is normal to me, and he is better than normal because now he has his life back,” Gant said.
It's pretty remarkable for a mom who just wants the best that life can offer her little boy who is now 14 and happier than ever.