Quiet Perseverance

Jesiah Turner is not like most teenagers. At 13, he has dreams of starting a business to assist the homeless with housing needs. He invests in a savings account and, sometimes, thinks about following his grandfather's lead and being a firefighter. He has also had more surgeries than birthdays.

When he was just 16 months old, Jesiah stopped walking and developing normally. He was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, a chronic condition in which excessive spinal fluid puts pressure on the brain. There is no cure for hydrocephalus, but it can be treated.

In Jesiah's case, treatment has meant numerous surgeries – 25 in 11 years – to implant and maintain a shunt that carries fluids away from the brain.

"The way I explain it is the shunt is plumbing, and plumbing can get clogged," said Krystal Tomei, MD, MPH, Reinberger Endowed Director in Pediatric Neurological Surgery at UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital. "Unfortunately, the only way that we have to fix the clog is to go in and repair the plumbing."

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