Snuggling Up To Hydro Bears

Friday, January 6, 2012 - 10:55am

Hydrocephalus survivor's bears comfort kids facing similar struggle.

Evan Arredondo is not even 2 years old, but he has already had five brain surgeries.

He has hydrocephalus, a build-up of fluid inside his skull which leads to brain swelling.

It has been a difficult journey for Evan and his family.

"He has been through so much but the Lord has given him strength," said Evan's mother, Kristal Arredondo. "He's a tough little guy. He's been so happy. This hasn't got him down."

Hydrocephalus can be caused by a variety of things in people of any age.

There is no cure.

The fluid the brain makes does not circulate normally.

"What hydrocephalus is, is a problem with how that flow takes place," said Dr. Pat Aronin, pediatric neurosurgeon at Dell Children's Medical Center. "There's an obstruction in the flow someplace. When that happens the fluid can't get absorbed the way it normally should."

Just hours after his latest surgery Evan got a gift from someone who knows all too well how he feels.

Sheri Burdine has hydrocephalus, too, and brought Evan a teddy bear.

She calls the teddy bear "Hydro Bear," and it comes from the group she founded, Hydro Angels Over Texas.

Burdine is on a mission to support families dealing with the condition, because when she was diagnosed at age 11, her family felt all alone.

"One day I was lying in the hospital in 2003 in December," said Sheri Burdine. "I was on my eighth brain surgery to repair a malfunctioning shunt I thought to myself the only thing that would make me feel better is if I had a teddy bear."

Burdine's dream has come true.

Evan received the first Hydro Bear at Dell Children's Medical Center, and his mother received the gift of knowing the condition will not stop her little boy from growing up.

"I've met moms of children that have it, and that's a great support," said Kristal Arredondo. "To know that I can actually talk to somebody that has it and can answer my questions that I want to know and want to find out -- that's wonderful."

"I walk through that room," said Burdine. "I see those eyes, and those eyes are my mom's eyes and I get it. To be there where my mom had no one my entire life to say, "You're not alone" is the best feeling."

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