Tony B Nothing Can Steal Tony’s Smile

CSH gave Tony back something so simple that we all take for granted daily.

Tony BlakelyThe Blakely family’s world flipped upside down when their eight-year-old son Santonio (Tony) suddenly suffered from a stroke caused by the rupture of an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) in the right frontal lobe of his brain. Tony was rushed into emergency open brain surgery at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ. An AVM occurs when arteries in the brain connect directly to nearby veins without having the normal small vessels between them. AVMs vary in size and location in the brain. It was later discovered that Tony’s AVM resulted from an undetected congenital disability.

Tony showed significant signs of improvement after his surgery and he was soon transferred to Children’s Specialized Hospital (CSH) for inpatient treatment. Tony spent exactly three weeks at the inpatient facility learning to sit, stand, and walk again on his own.

Tony Blakely with Therapists“It was extremely nerve-wracking watching our son struggle to do things that were once very easy for him,” said Tony’s mother, Damaris. “However, the staff at CSH--especially the therapists--were very kind, informative, and patient with Tony and our entire family throughout the entire process.”

Damaris describes Tony as a very active child who was involved with his travel soccer team and played recreational soccer six days a week. He also loves football and was looking forward to his first football season before his AVM ruptured. Tony enjoys playing both board and video games, playing outside, and being silly.

“When Tony was first hospitalized I felt crushed, hurt, broken down, and scared that there was a chance that we could lose our son,” added Tony’s father, Shawn. “I truly appreciate all of the staff’s hard efforts and fight for Tony to survive and get back on his feet. We also appreciate everyone always checking in on us as parents as well as for our son as he recovered. My hope for Tony is that he can get back to who he was before the AVM rupture.”

Tony Blakely therapy swingDuring his time at CSH, Tony made an impression on everyone he encountered with his energetic and fun personality. Tony brought the same enthusiasm he used on the field to excel during treatment. Shortly after beginning treatment at CSH, Tony made great strides toward improvement.

“As a very active kid, being unable to stand or walk was a huge obstacle for Tony. His biggest goal was to be able to run again. “After surgery, Tony was unable to hold his head up or sit up on his own; he also was struggling to stand and walk--all of which he can now do again,” said Damaris. “CSH gave Tony back something so simple that we all take for granted daily.”

Dr. Krishan Yalamanchi, who cared for Tony during his stay at CSH, was exceptionally pleased with his recovery and credited his family’s participation in the family centered care we provide. “Tony stayed with us for three weeks and made tremendous progress,” said Dr. Yalamanchi. “A big contributing factor to his success was his parents being very supportive throughout his entire stay.”

Tony Blakely pool therapyWhen asked about his experience at CSH, Tony said he rates it one million out of ten. “All of the therapists were special because they believe in you, and it makes you believe in yourself,” he said. “Leaving the hospital was great because I could be home with my family and baby brother, but it was hard, too.” Tony’s favorite part of being at CSH was meeting new people, cooking with his Occupational Therapist, Megan, and aquatic therapy.

“Santonio made wonderful progress at CSH during his stay here,” said OT Megan Kret. “He is motivated, hardworking and eager to participate in therapy sessions. He enjoyed incorporating both play and exercise in sessions and left here walking with a big smile on his face!”

Now, just four months after leaving CSH, Tony is returning to his active, fun-loving, silly self while he continues working hard in his therapy sessions closer to home at the CSH Hamilton outpatient center.

Tony Blakely

Blakely Family