Toddler has a head larger than most adults’ after undergoing life-saving surgery to expand his skull by three inches in order to drain a build-up of deadly fluid on his brain
- Davey Reid was diagnosed with hydrocephalus at just 14 months old
- Now three, he has endured 22 operations to drain excess fluid from his head
- One surgery stretched his skull so much his head does not fit in adult-sized caps
A toddler has been left with head larger than that of most adults’ after undergoing life-saving surgery to expand his skull.
Davey Reid was diagnosed with hydrocephalus at just 14 months old, which caused a deadly build-up of fluid to accumulate in his brain.
Davey, now three, from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, has been forced to undergo 22 operations in his short life to drain the excess fluid.
One of these surgeries restructured the shape of his skull and stretched it so much his head cannot even fit in adult-sized caps, which are 22inches wide.
The World Health Organization states the average circumference of a three-year-old boy’s head is 19inches, meaning his head has grown by at least three inches.
All of the procedures have also affected the youngster’s balance and may impact his cognitive development.
Not knowing what the future holds, his parents Jacey, 29, and David Reid, 39, worry cruel bullies will pick on him at school, with passers-by already stopping to comment on his appearance.
Davey Reid has been left with head larger than most adults’ after undergoing life-saving surgery to expand his skull. He is pictured at three years old while in hospital
He was diagnosed with hydrocephalus at just 14 months old, which caused a deadly build-up of fluid to accumulate in his brain. Pictured is a recent shot of Davey with his seven-year-old brother Noah in hospital, which shows the extent of his head’s growth at the back of his skull
Davey’s mother Jacey (pictured with him in hospital) worries he will be bullied over his looks
Doctors discovered Davey’s head measured in the 99th percentile for children his age during his one-year checkup.
Percentiles compare youngsters to others their same age. Being in the 99th percentile meant Davey’s head was larger than 99 per cent of one-year-olds.
He was eventually diagnosed with hydrocephalus in April 2016 when an MRI scan revealed a large cyst at the back of his brain, which was causing fluid to accumulate.
Davey was fitted with a shunt that May, which drained the excess fluid from his brain to his stomach.
A metal plate was then inserted to expand his skull and relieve pressure in his head in September last year.
Davey was also fitted with a second ‘cranial distractor’, which helps to reshape existing bone, but this was later removed.
The cranial distractors have left the youngster with a much longer and wider head than other children his age.
According to the charity CAPPS: ‘Cranial distraction allows for more significant reshaping and expansion of the space inside the skull by slowly stretching the scalp over time.’
‘We’re not sure on the percentile right now, but his head is bigger than an adult’s head,’ Jacey, a technical partner at a hospital, said.
‘We know this because adult sized hats don’t fit him. His head is bigger and longer than 22 inches for sure.
‘We try and keep him warm with ear warmers in the winter because he hates anything else being on his head.’
Davey (pictured recently in hospital) has been forced to undergo 22 different operations to drain the excess fluid in his head. One of these procedures restructured and stretched his skull
The youngster also had to have a small piece of his skull removed to relieve pressure and swelling. This means Davey has to be careful not to fall and hit his head, which worries his mother (both pictured in hospital), who describes her son as a ‘crazy toddler’
Davey’s head has stretched so much it can no longer fit inside adult-sized caps
Davey was fitted with a second ‘cranial distractor’, which helps to reshape existing bone. This was later removed but had already expanded his head. He is pictured with his doll post surgery
He has also been diagnosed with a brain herniation, which occurs when tissue, blood and fluid shift from their normal position inside the skull.
This can lead to swelling and pressure within the brain that can cause permanent damage or even death.
Davey was therefore forced to have surgery to remove a small piece of his skull to relieve the pressure, which means he must be careful not to bump his head.
‘He’s a crazy toddler and I always worry he will conk his head on something,’ Jacey, who is also mother to seven-year-old Noah, said.
‘He can’t play contact sports because he’s missing a piece of his skull in the back from one of the surgeries to relieve the pressure. But he’s such a sweet little boy.’
As well as being left with an over-sized head, Davey’s operations have also affected his balance
Pictured with his mother and father David Reid in hospital, Davey’s parents want their son to ‘have a life like everyone else’. They describe the youngster as ‘brave’, ‘strong’ and ‘amazing’
Davey is pictured in hospital recovering after one of his many surgeries
WHAT IS HYDROCEPHALUS?
Hydrocephalus is a build-up of fluid in the brain, which can damage tissue.
Aside from an abnormally-sized head, other symptoms can include headache, nausea, vomiting, confusion and vision problems.
Hydrocephalus’ cause is usually unknown but may be due to issues with cavities in the brain or an underlying health problem that affects blood flow, such as heart disease.
It can also be acquired by damage to the brain due to a head injury, stroke or tumour.
Treatment is shunt surgery, which involves implanting a thin tube into the brain to drain away excess fluid to another part of the body where it can be absorbed into the bloodstream.
If untreated, hydrocephalus can be fatal due to increased pressure compressing the brainstem, which is responsible for regulating heart rates and breathing.
A patient’s prognosis after surgery depends on their age and general health.
Source: Brain and Spine Foundation
Jacey claims the hardest part of Davey’s condition is not knowing how it will affect him in the long run.
‘He’s had 22 brain surgeries, 11 of which have been revisions of his shunt. It has affected his balance,’ she said.
‘We’re unsure of how this will affect his development long term and that uncertainty is the most difficult part.
‘He takes medication every day and he has to get his bloods done once a week.
‘He goes through so much.’
She also worries how people will treat Davey, saying: ‘People often ask us what happened to him.
‘I don’t mind their questions but I do worry about his future.
‘I don’t want him to be picked on or for him to struggle.
‘He is different. He has a lot of scars, one from ear-to-ear from his brain surgery.
She added: ‘I’m worried about when he starts school because I know children can be cruel.
‘We just want him to have a life like everyone else.
‘He’s so brave and so strong. He’s amazing.’
Davey (pictured with his mother in hospital) has been left with a scar from ‘ear-to-ear’ due to one of his procedures. Jacey said: ‘I don’t want him to be picked on or for him to struggle’
Pictured after one of his surgeries, Davey had a shunt fitted in 2016 to drain his excess fluid
His father is pictured comforting Davey while he recovers from treatment in hospital