Colin Ranson recovering from surgery

Colin Ranson at home in New Brunswick before surgery, earlier this month. Diocese of Fredericton parishioners took part in a fundraising effort to help pay for his laser brain surgery in Houston, Texas. Photo: Contributed
Colin Ranson at home in New Brunswick before surgery, earlier this month. Diocese of Fredericton parishioners took part in a fundraising effort to help pay for his laser brain surgery in Houston, Texas. Photo: Contributed
Published March 15, 2016
(Republished with permission from the diocese of Fredericton eNews.)
The lead-up to surgery for Colin Ranson had all the plot twists of a Hollywood movie, but in the end, the two-year-old is almost free of seizures.
The Rev. Paul and Kim Ranson, their sons, Colin and Isaac, 3, and Kim’s parents were in Houston, Texas for two weeks in early March for Colin’s laser brain surgery. The procedure was necessary to blast a tumour that had been causing multiple gelastic seizures every day.
The Rothesay couple chose Texas Children’s Hospital, a centre of excellence for treatment of Colin’s rare disease, Pallister-Hall Syndrome, which was the source of a benign tumour-like growth deep inside his brain called a Hypothalamic Hamartoma. Fewer than 500 children in the world have this condition.
In November, Colin’s parents announced a fundraising effort because the surgery and related costs would be $200,000. It was unknown whether medicare would cover any cost.
That news kick-started a massive campaign in the Diocese of Fredericton that ultimately saw about $170,000 raised, much of it from parish efforts near and far. Just before Christmas, the New Brunswick government announced it would partially fund the treatment.
Since then, diocesan parishes have had Colin high on their prayer lists, never more so than recently during his time in the Texas hospital.

During the week of Feb. 29, Colin underwent pre-op tests, including an EEG, blood work, MRI and PET scans, as well as doctors’ appointments. But it was Wednesday, March 2, when it became apparent that the Friday, March 4 surgery was threatened by a fever, possible infection, persistent cough and an elevated white blood cell count.

However, his parents’ reaction to this complication was not as you might expect.

“I was obviously concerned, but I experienced a real peace and calm during the travel to emergency, and the whole time we were there,” said Paul.

“One of the members of my Ignatian Group sent me a letter containing a description of a prayer time for Colin. In it was a powerful image of Jesus delighting in our taking Colin to him for care.

“That image, along with the assurance of prayers of so many people – back home and around the globe – truly uplifted us in that time.

“Later that night and into the next day, I was really wanting the surgery to go ahead, but Kimberly reminded me that whether it happened on the 4th or later on, it was in accordance with God’s plan for Colin. His speedy recovery was so awesome. It was a truly graced event.”

That Wednesday night, the call for urgent prayer went out over Facebook, with amazing results.

“We were blown away by the support shown to us on Facebook,” said Paul. “I am especially thankful for those who shared the prayer request – I think it reached over 30,000. It was such an encouragement to us.”

The next morning, the fever was gone, but with only 24 hours until surgery, the decision of whether or not to proceed was a big one.

By Thursday evening, the anaesthetic team had approved the surgery, but the neuro team was unsure. A chest X-ray later that night was clear, which prompted the green light, much to Paul and Kim’s relief.

“Surgery day was actually easier than the Wednesday Colin had the fever,” said Paul. “They took Colin at about 8 a.m.; we were reunited at 1 or so. The staff was amazing at keeping us posted with how Colin was doing and at what stage they were at in the procedure.”

By Saturday, March 5, the day after surgery, Colin was ready to be released from hospital, a far cry from the three-month recovery time for traditional brain surgery done in Canada.

“Colin is being medicated with a strong steroid to prevent swelling, as well as antibiotics as a preventative measure following surgery,” said Paul. “The result is that he is ravenously hungry all the time. He is also tired, so we are awake with him at odd times for feedings or for administering medication.

“We are doing some small day trips – to the aquarium, to a mall – but mostly we are staying close to home to let Colin rest and eat!”

As of March 10, there had been one seizure in a boy used to having upwards of a few dozen a day.

“We were told that it’s normal for seizures to resume following surgery. They called this a run-down period and they compared it to a train that was running at full tilt. Even if the engine was shut off it will still coast for kilometres.

“Kim and I thought he might have had one the other night, but it was so short and wimpy by comparison to his normal seizures that we think it was more likely a genuine giggle than a gelastic seizure.”

The future looks bright for Colin as he recovers.

“If he has achieved seizure freedom, or reduction, the surgery will be deemed a success,” said Paul. “At the moment, it appears that he is free from the seizures. If that is the case, the hamartoma will no longer be a concern to him.”

The Ransons planned to fly home March 15.


  • Gisele McKnight

    Gisele McKnight is editor of the New Brunswick Anglican, the diocesan newspaper of the Anglican diocese of Fredericton. She is also communications officer for the diocese.

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