Brain Surgery Support for Richard Harrell

Our son, Richard has suffered from debilitating migraines for the majority of his life.  Seeking medical assistance from numerous sources the answer was always the same, medication.  In September 2017, Richard came home from work early one day and was disoriented, slurring his speech and unable to form coherent thoughts or verbiage.  We rushed him to the emergency room where Richard experienced his first seizure in the lobby. After extensive testing, Richard Harrell was diagnosed with a Grade 4 Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM) in the left occipital lobe of his brain.   Basically, Richard has a mass of tangled blood vessels connecting arteries and veins in the back area of his brain. It was also determined that he had cavernous malformations throughout the area caused by small brain bleeds over a long period of time

Over the course of the next year, Richard sought out numerous neurologist in attempt to determine the best course of action.  He even took many trips to Duke University, but the answer was always the same.  No one recommended doing anything other than monitoring the AVM to try and identify any potential for ruptured aneurisms before they happen.  

In October 2018 Richard had two aneurysms rupture in the AVM, which resulted in a brain bleed/stroke and required emergency brain surgery to save his life.  Richard spent 4 weeks in the ICU at Riverside Hospital and was Lucky to come out of the trauma with minimal permanent damage.  Since then he has had three more surgeries where the physicians have injected a glue like substance into areas of the AVM to try and seal the vessels one by one to prevent further aneurisms (Endovascular Embolization). They attempted two to three vessels each surgery.  Due to unforeseen complications, medical equipment failure and the complexity of trying to get to the area of the brain the AVM is located in, they have not been able to accomplish all they had originally hoped for. His doctors at Riverside Hospital recommended that it was time to do a complete resection of the AVM and referred Richard to the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, AZ.  

The doctors at the Barrow Institute have reviewed Richard’s case and concurred that the best course of action is resection due to the fact the AVM has already ruptured in the past.  Richard is scheduled to arrive at the Barrow Neurological Institute on October 14, 2019. There, he will have open brain surgery in effort to remove the entire mass of abnormal vessels.  This is a very dangerous surgery and holds risks that could result in blindness, various degrees of mental and/or physical deficiencies, and even death.  If successful, he would never have to worry about the AVM again and he can move on with his life.

Richard already has over $30,000 in medical bills not covered by his insurance. The trip itself to AZ for him and us will cost thousands in air fare, hotel room, food etc. Not to mention lost wages and even more non-covered medical bills.

Here's a little info on Richard for those who may not know this amazing young man. He is 24 years old. He has already received an Associate Degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology through our local community college and now attends Old Dominion University working towards his Bachelor’s Degree. While furthering his education in engineering, Richard works full-time for a contractor at NASA Langley Research Center. Because he does have a full-time job, Richard pays for his college tuition himself. He lives at home with his little brother who is 11 years old, a small dog named Bandit, his mother, his father and his uncle. Richard embarked on the path for his education so he could gain valuable hands on experience and to save money and build credit so he could purchase his own home in the next few years.  Obviously, his medical issues have put a severe damper on Richard’s life plans.

To further add to his story, Richard does not spend his free time out partying, as many 24 year olds do.  He spends nearly all his free time volunteering with Raider Nation Wrestling Club, a youth wrestling club in Yorktown VA.  He is the advanced coach for a team of 50 plus kids.  He works tirelessly with these kids from November to March, spending 4 nights a week for practice and weekends at tournaments, both local and out of town. Throughout the rest of the year Richard works very closely coaching his little brother and several other wrestler that participate year round.  Richard also volunteers and helps coach at several other local clubs throughout the year. 

To put Richard’s dedication to these kids into perspective, the day he was released from the hospital after his 2 ruptured aneurysms, he insisted to be taken to the wrestling room so he could watch practice.  And it was only a few days later he was out walking around the mat with his cane offering guidance.  He gives back to the local wrestling community with all he has.  

His wrestling family has been there for each hospital stay providing love, support, encouragement and food.  A big thank you to them and to all his friends, co-workers and family that have been so supportive throughout.

The goal is to raise funds to help Richard get through this final surgery with us by his side. Any additional funds would be applied to his outstanding medical bills. Any sort of contribution will help Richard so he can continue working on his future and most importantly, live the beautiful life he has made for himself. 

We want to thank you in advance for all your support, prayers and good wishes.

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Minda Holland Harrell 
Yorktown, VA
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