Hunter's Brain/Seizure Procedure

Hunter was a promising athlete with his whole life ahead of him. 14 concussions and 8 surgeries in 3 years, daily seizures, 7 ER visits in the past 6 weeks, a recent tumor and emergent surgery have had their toll on this warrior, but not once has anyone ever heard him complain. His brain is so sensitive, that even a casual day at the pool caused an additional concussion and a relapse into post-concussion syndrome lasting days and causing his seizures to become worse. Though he'll never be an athlete again, a new procedure offers some hope for Hunter's future and help is needed to come up with the money to give this kid his life back. Please read on for the full details.

The whole story - Meet Hunter

Hunter is a promising athlete, with more than 10 offers to come play college football at various D1 universities. Football is Hunter's passion, what he lives for and breaths. Up at 4 am during endurance training, Hunter can be found at the amphitheater, running stairs and jumping seats to build muscle tone and strength.

At least, that's what Hunter used to be like. He was good enough that even though he didn’t play a single game his junior or senior years, he still got offers from top-tier, D1 schools. In 8th grade, his combine score was enough to be ranked 4 years ahead with the seniors. Now, his days are spent in the dark of the most secluded room in the house, where he can get away from the light and the noise that cause his continuous migraines to be so bad that he has seizures. Even this is often not enough, and he will have 2 or 3 seizures a day as he tries to fight his way through high school and onto college where he hopes to finish his education.

What happened
Obviously, Hunter's life has changed drastically. 2 1/2 years ago his life took a turn for the worse - while playing Jr Varsity football in the fall of 2014, Hunter sustained a concussion. Hunter down-played the injury, but everyone knew he was hurt. The coaches really wanted one of their stars to play in the Varsity game, and the school sports therapist decided Hunter was fine so he could play the next day. The next game, Hunter again sustained a concussion. 

At this point, Hunter likely would have been OK, but again, he was cleared so he could help the team shine the next week.  On Thursday of the following week, during the Jr Varsity warm-up game, Hunter decided to get a couple extra yards by plowing through the oncoming tackle, so he put his head down and shoulder forward, and braced for the big hit. Hunter sustained his third concussion in less than a week.

This hit did him in. Hunter's helmet twisted, causing the forehead pad of his helmet to move directly over his eye. The force of the hit gave Hunter a triple-exacerbated concussion, a broken nose, an orbital blow-out fracture, and a cracked sinus structure pushing into his brain cavity. The next day he went in for surgery, where he received a titanium plate to help repair the damage.

A year went by, and Hunter could not stay up late, or go near loud places like the basketball or football games that he so dearly loved without having a major migraine for the next 24 hours. One day would seem like progress was being made, only to have the next day spent in excruciating pain. 

And then the shaking started. At first, it was as though Hunter were fidgety for ½ hour or so, and then he'd have a horrible migraine. This progressed over the next couple of months until it was obvious that something was not right. Hunter would not respond when these episodes happened, the fidgets turned to shakes, and there was nothing that could be done to help. The family started going to doctors and specialist, only to find out that Hunter was having seizures, which is why he couldn't communicate during these episodes. 

The seizures got worse. During Hunter's Junior and Senior years, Hunter could not attend a solid week of school without having to take a day off to recover from a seizure. During the last couple of months, he was lucky to go a single day in a whole week’s time.

It gets worse
During Hunter's senior year, he started to notice a bump on the inside of his eye socket where the titanium plate was located. He had major pressure in his eye and head, causing worse and worse headaches and bloody noses. Finally, this last month, the family was able to get Hunter back to his original maxillofacial surgeon to see if something was wrong with the plate. The surgeon took Hunter in for emergent surgery the same day to find out what was going on. He found a tumor.

The surgeon said that where this tumor was located, a foreign object the size of a grain of sand would cause massive headaches, and that Hunter had a tumor about 2 inches long, and as big around as the end of a pinky finger. He was amazed that Hunter was able to stand up, let alone pass high school, even with numerous teachers and friends pitching in to help Hunter in every way they could.

The light at the end, the hope for a future
Luckily, the tumor was able to be removed during that same procedure, and it turned out to be benign. The pressure in Hunter's head has decreased significantly, and Hunter is able to enjoy himself a little more now than in the past. The seizures however, those have stayed.

After 2 years of research and travel to several place across the country, the family has been able to find a clinic locally (Cognitive FX - one of only 2 clinics in the country to offer this treament) with the help and  great potential for concussion victims like Hunter. NFL players use this service, and Hunter has passed the initial screening to be accepted into the program.

Financing is not an option for this family, and the cost is high. Hunter's family is on a high-deductible insurance plan, and while the deductible has been met, the out-of-pocket is stacking up. The program is also not formally FDA approved yet, and so even with out-of-pocket maximums being met, the family will have to pay even more in order to get this procedure for Hunter.

Unfortunately, Hunter has a very limited time until his brain has stopped creating new neural pathways, and if the procedure can't be done soon, Hunter's diminished mental capacity and post-concussion syndrome will remain for the rest of his life.

What's already been done
Hunter's parents have been running 3 newspaper routes to try and come up with the money, but with the recent surgery expenses and some car repairs, they are no closer to the procedure today than they were a year ago.

Hunter's mother gets out of bed at 3:30 every morning to try and raise the money needed. Hunter's father also works 2 jobs, and is also attending graduate classes. Both parents are often out of the house for 14-18 hours a day trying to come up with the money needed.

This effort for the past 2 years is taking its toll, and the two are exhausted. They also only have months left before the treatment will a largely diminished capacity to help as Hunter’s brain starts to solidify the neural pathways into the brain structure he will have the rest of his life.

The ask
The family needs help, and it has been sad to see not only Hunter's passion, but literally his life, stripped from him in such an aggressive manner. The family needs help meeting the medical bills that have already piled up, as well as the money for the procedure itself.  This is what is being asked:

   6,000 - out of pocket for treatment already performed
12,000 - expense of the CognitiveFX procedure
(3,000) - money already earned through hard work
15,000 - Total amount needed

Any help is greatly appreciated while we try to help this great kid and his family have a normal life once again.


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Jamie Akemon-gifford 
Saratoga Springs, UT