A Wake County family is sharing their son’s medical journey in the hopes of helping other families dealing with a similar condition.
Grady McCutcheon is an active 5-year-old, but when he was just a baby his health took a serious turn.
“At 7 months, he ended up having a massive stroke,” Grady’s mother, Amy McCutcheon said.
The stroke happened after a series of seizures and misdiagnosis. A second opinion revealed what was happening inside Grady’s brain.
“In a follow up MRI about three months after that, he’d had even more strokes, so three major strokes during the first year of life,” Amy McCutcheon said.
For the McClutcheons, seeing their active little boy now belies the helplessness they felt when he suffered the series of seizures and strokes as a baby.
“Standing there in that room, watching that happen, watching his stats go down, his oxygen levels, I felt very powerless,” Joe McCutcheon said.
Now, the McCutcheons are hopeful because of treatment, prayers and lots of support.
“He’s just left with the common symptoms you would see in an adult who has had a stroke, which is weakness on the one side. His strokes were on the left side of his brain, so the right side of his body is affected,” Amy McCutcheon said.
Tim Gershon, neurologist at UNC Hospitals, said that strokes in babies are less disabling because the unaffected areas of the young brain are better able to take over the functions of the injured areas.
“Many children have relatively little disability after strokes that would be severely disabling for adults,” Gershon said.
Grady doesn’t allow his disability to get in the way of being a typical 5-year-old. He recently started kindergarten and said he loves playing outside on the playground.
The McCutcheons also find solace and support from other families with a similar medical journey through the Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke Association. It’s an opportunity for the families to learn from each other, especially through older children helping younger kids like Grady.
“They’ve learned some of these life skills that they know some of the younger kids are going to need to learn. They’re teaching them and giving them home,” Joe McCutcheon said.
Grady will celebrate his 6th birthday in three weeks. He hasn’t had a stroke in five years.