It’s been 14 years and six surgeries since the Korcal family learned the phrase “Chiari malformation.”
The anomaly of the brain is characterized by a protrusion of a small part of the brain through the bottom of the skull and into the spinal canal.
First, eldest son Andrew Korcal was diagnosed at age 14, and then they realized it was also the reason for teen daughter Amanda’s lifelong struggle with headaches. Once her children were stable, mom Layna went to get her diagnosis, but her Chiari likely won’t require a surgery. She’s hoping her youngest son continues not to display any symptoms.
“Andrew and Amanda had different complications, but they both had really good outcomes,” Layna said.
Along with the latest high-tech tools and procedures, the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Michigan Health System also depends on one talented woman with a pencil.
Megan Foldenauer, Ph.D., a certified medical illustrator (CMI), was recently featured in the news for her work as a UMHS medical illustrator.
An aneurysm image by U-M Medical Illustrator Megan Foldenauer, from the Department of Neurosurgery.
“There’s an art to taking a photograph and then reducing it to its essential components,” she told Local 4 News in a July segment about the continued relevance of low-tech medical sketches.
Foldenauer was studying biology as a high school senior when a teacher explained that her talent for illustrating her lab reports might turn into more than a hobby. She continued to study science, along with art, so she’d be able to illustrate the most important parts of medical images. Foldenauer’s pieces aid understanding that a complex photograph tends to muddle.
“Part of what I do is to offer that kind of visualization of that information for patients so that they can learn about their body,” Foldenauer told Local 4 News.
As a transplant surgeon for both kids and adults, I spend my days and nights waiting for the call that a precious, life-saving organ is available for one of our desperate patients — a call that doesn’t come nearly often enough. But I have faith that one day signing up as an organ donor will be as normal and routine as wearing a seat belt, a bike helmet or putting on sunscreen.
Every day 17 people across the country die waiting for an organ. There are 123,253 souls currently on the wait list who hope, pray, beg or bargain for someone to be their hero. At the same time, an untold number of people took their organs with them when they died instead of leaving them to live on in someone else.
It’s not only a loss for the patients waiting for organs, but a missed opportunity for family and friends of organ donors to experience the comfort and pride that comes from knowing their loved one saved a life or many lives – leaving this world as a hero.
On Mother’s Day 2010, my son Gavin had his first seizure. That was just before his fourth birthday. Up until that point, Gavin was a healthy young boy. At the hospital that Mother’s Day, Gavin was diagnosed with epilepsy and a brain tumor. For the next three years, Gavin suffered from multiple seizures even though he was on five medications and a special diet. He had seizures most every night and sometimes during the day. We couldn’t leave him alone and had to limit our activities because we never knew when he’d have a seizure.
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