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Life Saving Brain Surgery for Jessica Brown

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“Chiari malformations are structural defects in the base of the skull and cerebellum.”



After many years of health-related struggles, we finally found the cause of my little sisters’ pain and suffering. What the doctors first thought to be absent seizures, accompanied by severe depression and other mental illnesses, turned out to be a rare condition called a Chiari Malformation. While the good news is that we finally found the cause, we are now faced with long journey of multiple brain surgeries and the financial strain associated with the surgeries and recovery process.


About Jessica:

My little sister is a young and vibrant 25-year-old, who has faced many challenges in her life due to her medical condition. Since she was a child, she has always had the biggest heart for people and animals alike. At one point, our house was so full of animals that she had brought home saved, you would think we were an animal hospital. She has carried that love and passion for helping others throughout her life. Her dream has always been to get her degree in Dental Hygiene and join the Peace Corp. to help others in need. However, due to her medical condition, her dream of joining the Peace Corp. could never be realized. However, that didn’t stop her from pursuing her degree anyway, while trying to work and dealing with the mental and physical pain every day. 


Jessica’s Story:

In late 2016 Jessica’s life changed for better and for worse. After an MRI of her brain, the doctors discovered the cause of all her medical conditions: a Chiari Malformation, the tonsils of her cerebellum extended out of her foramen magnum by 7mm on each side, causing pressure on her spinal cord. It was determined that she would need “decompression surgery” to help rectify the malformation. During this time, she had recently changed jobs, started school to become a dental hygienist, and had little savings.

The good news was, we now had an answer to everything that had been going on medically with her and it was treatable. It also meant, that once treated, she could have a real shot at pursuing her dreams to join the Peace Corp. but this also meant that as a family, we would need to figure out how to get her the medical treatment she desperately needed.  


Things took a turn for the worse on February 16th, 2019. Jessica awoke with severe dizziness and vertigo, speech problems, increased weakness, fainting, and vomiting. After being admitted to the ER and two MRI’s later, we discovered her cerebellar tonsils had distended further down, 10mm. This had now turned into a very serious situation, requiring surgery as soon as possible. Because of this, she had to drop out of school and could no longer work.

Her surgery is scheduled for April 26th, 2019 at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.


About Chiari Malformation:

Chiari malformation Type I
Type 1 happens when the lower part of the cerebellum (called the cerebellar tonsils) extends into the foramen magnum.  Normally, only the spinal cord passes through this opening.  Type 1 is the most common form of CM.  It is usually first noticed in adolescence or adulthood, often by accident during an examination for another condition.  Adolescents and adults who have CM but no symptoms initially may develop signs of the disorder later in life.



A variety of visual symptoms can occur with the Chiari I malformation including double vision, decreased peripheral vision, fireflies, visual loss, blind spots, photophobia, spasm of the eyelids (blepharospasm), and jerking of the eyes (nystagmus). Symptoms of the ears and the balance system include dizziness, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), poor balance (disequilibrium), decrease or loss of hearing, and vertigo. Other symptoms related to the cranial nerves and their nuclei include hoarseness, problems swallowing (dysphagia), slurring of words (dysarthria), and numbness of the face. Many patients complain of weakness, numbness or tingling, or pain in the arms or legs.

General symptoms include depression, poor sleep (insomnia) and fatigue. Some note problems with memory, thinking and speech. People report the feeling of a brain fog with difficulty in thinking and concentration. Difficulty in finding the right word is not uncommon.


Effects of the Chiari malformation on the respiratory and heart centers can cause shortness of breath, chest pain, episodes of rapid heart rate (tachycardia), black out spells, and hypertension. Abdominal symptoms may include nausea, abdominal pain, or vomiting.


How You Can Help:

We are asking that you please donate money to help Jessica stay above water financially while she undergoes these surgeries and recovers, as well as help with medical costs not covered by insurance. As a family we are doing everything we can to assist Jessica during this time, however we don’t have the financial means to fully get her the help that she needs. 



Organizer and beneficiary

Misty Dawn
Spokane, WA
Jay Brown

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