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Aidan Fraser Leaves Montefore; Will Soon Walk On His Own

New York City NY (November 27, 2006) – Just three weeks after undergoing two major surgeries at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM) to prevent paralysis from a large tumor wrapped around his spine, six-year-old Aidan Fraser, accompanied by his mother, today left CHAM en route to a rehabilitation facility.  The brave boy said the only thing that scared him about his hospital stay was the surgery, but then praised the surgeons individually and said, "They saved my life."

With a “halo” brace around his head to prevent movement, and propped up in a stretcher, he was met by a barrage of TV news cameras, radio microphones and print reporters. Above the din of passing ambulances, fire engines and busses, Aidan’s mother, Suzanne Fraser, said he was doing “very well” after two surgeries to save him from the life-threatening disease, Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1) that was crushing his spinal cord.

According to Adam Levy, MD, director of Pediatric Neuro-Oncology at CHAM, Aidan was doing “fantastic.”   “Just this morning he was walking with little assistance, his mom on one side and a physical therapist on the other,” he said.   This ability to walk with minimal help was an indicator to Dr. Levy that Aidan would have a quick recovery in rehabilitation.  “We expect he will be playing and running and will be able to walk his dog and be a happy, active child,” said John K. Houten, MD, director of the Neurosurgical Spine Service at CHAM, and one of the pediatric neurosurgeons at Montefiore who operated on the Brooklyn boy.

Aidan’s voice quality and ability to swallow have improved “immensely” since the surgery, said Dr. Houten.  He was off of IV pain medications today, as well, he said. Aidan’s mother praised her son as a “tough little guy” and thanked the “wonderful team of physicians and surgeons” at CHAM who took care of her son.  The team was led by Rick Abbott, MD, pediatric neurosurgeon at CHAM, and included:  David A. Staffenberg, MD, chief, Pediatric Plastic Surgery at CHAM; Richard Smith, MD, vice-chairman of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Montefiore; and Drs. Levy and Houten.

During the two-stage, 18-hour series of operations, a special surgical team penetrated the very rare NF1 tumor called a Plexiform Neurofibroma, which had temporarily paralyzed the boy when he fell six weeks ago, and was able to use the boy’s ribs as scaffolding to help straighten his spine.  Aidan has had bouts of paralysis since he was a toddler, the first occurring just after his father died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.
Aidan’s neck is still swollen, and he is definitely “not out of the woods,” according to Dr. Levy.  “But, he has been dealing with this his entire life…and he seems to come out on top every time….In the past few days, his mood has shifted from “frustrated to enthusiastic,” said Dr. Levy.