Grayson Dragon Hernandez was 5 1/2 months old when his parents took him to the emergency room at Children’s Hospital in New Orleans for a barium enema. They did a routine x-ray and ultrasound but before giving him the enema they asked his parents to follow them back to our exam room. A few seconds later an oncologist walked into the room and their whole world changed. Grayson had a 9x9x6 cm tumor in his lower abdomen. They suspected it was neuroblastoma and after a biopsy their suspicions were confirmed and it was determined to be Stage 3. As the rest of the world was ringing in the new year, Gray was receiving his first chemotherapy treatment. The surgeon at Children’s felt because of the size and location of the tumor, a resection could not be done. His tumor was growing at the base of the spine and was in between the vertebrae.

When after 4 rounds of chemo didn’t work Grayson’s doctor, Dr. Gardner, asked the doctors at St. Jude for a second opinion. There was a surgeon at St. Jude’s that thought he could remove most of the tumor. Although it would be considered a high risk surgery, he thought he could successfully remove most of the tumor. Within a week Gray was at St. Jude’s preparing for his surgery. The surgery was a huge success and 98% of the tumor was removed.

Gray had a rough time in recovery as the pain medication did not work. He was intubated and put in a medically induced coma to heal from the surgery. When one of the nurses dislodged the ventilator tube, Gray stopped breathing and he coded. The nurse could not bag him properly. The crisis team was there immediately and Gray eventually made it out of the ICU and recovered beautifully. St. Jude’s is an amazing place to visit and the children there come from all over the world and are truly inspiring.

After Grayson healed a baseline scan was done to monitor the tumor that was left. A few months after that a scan showed the tumor did not have any significant change. This indicates that the cells are still active and have not yet matured. The recommended treatment at this time is Accutane. Grayson will start taking Retin-A soon. This should help the cells differentiate and mature.

Grayson is one of the sweetest, happiest babies you have ever seen. He is now 14 1/2 months old and doing beautifully. He is still way off the growth chart but he has grown all his hair back and is meeting his benchmarks. He is a remarkable little boy.