Pearl River boy recovers from rare brain condition, becomes inspiration to other children

In 2020, 7-year-old Derek Blau was diagnosed with Chiari malformation, a condition where the brain begins to grow beyond the skull and into the spine.

News 12 Staff

Jul 31, 2022, 3:22 PM

Updated 667 days ago

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The lives of a Pearl River family changed forever in 2020 when they discovered their 4-year-old son had a rare brain condition – but his road to recovery has been an inspiration.
Derek Blau was diagnosed with Chiari malformation, a condition where the brain begins to grow beyond the skull and into the spine. It all began when Derek developed severe headaches and lost feeling in his feet.
“He was scared to walk because his head hurt so much and he was so stiff and didn't want to move,” said his mother Leah Blau.
A six-hour operation at Maria Ferrari Children’s Hospital promised to fix his symptoms.
“They have to do a decompression surgery…they go through the back of the head, they open up the skull and make room for your brain to grow,” his mother described. Derek’s sister, Isabella, feared for his safety during the operation.
“When he was at the hospital I was only in second grade, and I felt so nervous for him because I didn’t want him to go anywhere. I wanted to be together forever,” she recalled.
Luckily, the surgery was a success. His life was back to normal.
“I can jump. I can touch the wall. I can ride a bike,” said Derek.
However, the story doesn’t end there. To show appreciation for those who saved his life, he became an ambassador for Maria Ferrari Children’s Hospital, where he gives words of advice to other children. He was also given the opportunity of a lifetime – the chance to attend and participate in a Renegades baseball game.
"All of the sudden he found out he was going to bat in the fourth inning and run the bases, and that was so cool because we got to go on the field,” said his father Mark.
The Renegades and their opponents surrounded the Diamond as Derek went to bat and hit a home run.
"He ran around the bases and he was giving both teams high fives,” said Mark. "I was bawling like a baby, it’s an amazing moment. Just the journey that Derek’s been through and where he is now, words can’t describe it.”
It was a moment the Blau family will remember forever.


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