A mother’s love is full of hope

Amanda Crider, Staff Report

Hypothalamic Hamartoma: That was certainly a diagnosis that Steve and Angel Brabham of Ulmer, SC, weren't expecting. They had never even heard of it, let alone worry about it affecting their new baby.

Zeta Christian Brabham was born March 5, 2010, weighing 4 pounds and 10 ounces - a full pound more than expected. Immediately, the Brabham's were bombarded with an array of diagnoses for baby Zeta. Each day seemed to bring something new. She had a non-functioning kidney, a cleft palate, narrowing in one of her nasal passages, coloboma of the eyes (essentially a cleft in the eye), some minor heart defects, possible hearing loss, breathing issues, and poor muscle tone. Within a couple of weeks she was clinically diagnosed with CHARGE syndrome, a genetic disorder affecting most organs of the body.

“Although Zeta was spending her introduction to life in a hospital being poked and prodded, she always smiled and laughed - a lot,” said Angel. “Even when she was most sick, I remember always telling doctors something wasn't right. They would assure me she was doing ok, "look she's laughing," they would say. Although she appeared to be laughing, what I saw was not happiness,” said Angel.

When Zeta was four months old she started having some type of spasms. After personal research and a trip to the pediatrician, Zeta was sent to a neurologist for an EEG. The results were normal but two days later, the Brabham's were in ICU with Zeta for uncontrollable grand-mal seizures, facial twitching and lots of involuntary smiling combined with the inability to breathe. After going into septic shock from a UTI, another EEG was performed and once again came back normal. The doctors believed that the seizures stemmed from the high fever, but Zeta’s mother was not convinced considering Zeta was known to have hundreds of uncontrollable seizures.

Zeta was trached at 8 months. They also did an MRI of her brain. The results were a very rare condition called tuber cinerum - hypothalamic hamartoma – an overgrowth of brain tissue on the hypothalamus that affects the “automatic” functions of the brain and can cause many types of seizures, including seizures that cause weird smiling and laughing.

After many tests and exams, Zeta traveled to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital in Arizona where she underwent brain surgery at the age of 16 months in July of this year. As long as Zeta stays well, her seizures are less often, sometimes weeks in between episodes.

Since birth, Zeta has had twelve surgeries and twenty-four sick and planned hospitalizations. She is currently in the hospital (as of this publication) after suffering a bad UTI that caused her one functioning kidney to start failing. However, her labs are currently better and the family hopes to have her home soon.

Zeta’s family wishes to thank God, their family, friends, community and all of the businesses, individuals, and church groups that have supported them throughout Zeta's birth. Steve and Angel remain completely overwhelmed at all of the kindness, love, and generosity shown to them! Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Mike and Dianne Black, of Bamberg, owners of Black Shadow Deer Stand have decided to raffle off a Deer Stand with all proceeds going to Zeta’s family to help with her medical needs. The deer stand is a 14 ft. Iron Bullet-top-chain kit made by Black Shadow, valued at $1000. The drawing will be on January 7, 2012 at 3 p.m. at the Grand American Coon Hunt at the Orangeburg Fair Grounds. The deer stand can be seen at Sanders Supply in Bamberg. Tickets are 1 for $5, 5 for $20 and 25 for $100 and can be purchased at Sanders Supply or by calling Dianne Black at 803-308-7080 or Lisa Lane at 803-837-0956. Tickets are available for mail out by sending check/money with your name, return address and phone number to Black Shadow Deer Stands, PO Box 1122 Bamberg, SC 29003. Dianne will fill out the ticket stub and place in the drawing box and return the numbered ticket. Tickets will also be on sale at the Grand American Coon Hunt before the drawing. You do not have to be present to win.