HOUSTON - A young boy in Houston has already undergone more surgeries than many people will face in their lifetime. He has spent so much time in the hospital, his providers at UT Physicians and UT Health have become like family. They went out of their way to make sure his fifth birthday was super special.
The only thing Wesley said he wanted for his birthday was candles. That’s because he has never been able to blow them out before.
“This was the first year he was able to blow out candles on his own, by himself. Leading up this year, he never had the fine motor skills or developmental skills to blow out his candles, so he really excited this year,” exclaims his mom, Jasmine.
Wesley practiced and was ready on his big day.
“On his actual birthday, it was amazing to see. It was an emotional for me but exciting to see him come into his own independence,” say Jasmine.
Wesley was born prematurely and soon diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy called "West Syndrome". It causes developmental delays, plus there were more health problems.
“Kids who are born prematurely will have concerns for different types of brain abnormalities. Hydrocephalis is one of them, increased pressure in the brain, and then as well as those issues, different types of injury to brain, you end up with cerebral palsy as well,” explains Dr. Michael Watkins, a pediatric epileptologist with UT Physicians/UTHealth.
These three diagnoses have led to six surgeries in his lifetime, but doctors say he's doing well because his parents immediately noticed signs and got an early diagnosis.
“Them helping explain his conditions and what to expect and how to react and when to show concern, those things as parents help us feel much more at ease,” explains Wesley’s dad, Andre.
The Hicks' family has been with the same medical team at UT Physicians and UT Health since his first diagnosis.
“Kids like Wesley, they need frequent follow up and as part of that, you get to know them really well, families really well, important to have that as a clinical aspect, you get to know them and continue to watch him grow and do so well,” says Dr. Watkins.
All of the medical workers who help Wesley were on board to celebrate his birthday and made a special video to surprise him. This was a special way to safely celebrate him during the pandemic and they even got the Sugar Land Skeeters mascot, Swatson, onboard!
“As far as the mascot, I used to work at the Skeeters’ field in Sugar Land. That broke me down, seeing everything come together. We were planning to have his fifth birthday at the stadium, but COVID-19 ruined our plans,” Jasmine says.
But his medical workers got them as close as they could to the stadium with the virtual message.
“Seeing how much love Wesley has outside our family unit really means a lot,” states Jasmine.
Wesley's parents continue to help him develop his skills beyond blowing out his candles and are even teaching him sign language. Wesley’s family is happy his birthday kicks-off National Epilepsy Awareness Month, to make sure others know about the condition and the importance of an early diagnosis, so that treatments can take place quickly.
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