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Hydrocephalus research at Upstate receives $10,000 in support from grateful patient family

Hydrocephalus research at Upstate receives $10,000 in support from grateful patient family

SYRACUSE, N.Y.-- The family of 6-year-old Elyse Clough is grateful for the medical care she receives from Upstate University Hospital neurosurgeon Satish Krishnamurthy, MD, but it is the research he conducts that prompted the family and the support organization REaCH (Research, Educate, and Cure Hydrocephalus) to raise $10,000 in support of his work.

Elyse was born prematurely at 24 weeks, weighing only one pound, seven ounces. She suffered a massive brain bleed at birth and her prognosis was “horrible,” according to her mother Kim Clough.

“We didn’t know for months if she was going to survive,” Clough said. “And finally when we were able to bring her home, we noticed that something was wrong. Her head was expanding. We took her to her pediatrician who referred us to Upstate University Hospital, and that was when Elyse underwent brain surgery and Dr. Krishnamurthy inserted her first shunt.”

Hydrocephalus was a consequence of Elyse’s brain bleed. Hydrocephalus is a condition that results in abnormal accumulation of fluid in the brain, which can damage the brain and cause cognitive and physical handicap. Hydrocephalus in children is the most common reason for brain surgery; the only solution available to treat hydrocephalus is brain surgery.

“This solution would be acceptable if the surgery to place a tube, called a shunt, in the brain to drain the excess fluid into the stomach would solve the problem permanently,” said Krishnamurthy. “However, more often than not, these shunts need to be removed and replaced several times. The need for emergent and unpredictable brain surgeries makes this solution less than desirable. Parents and affected families ask me why we do not have a better solution yet.”

Seeking a solution in response to this frequently asked question is Krishnamurthy’s mission. His team conducts scientific research to understand what makes the fluid build up in the brain and how this process can be reversed. Their goal is to find a medication that will cure hydrocephalus without the need for surgery.

Elyse has had four brain surgeries since her initial one.

“It’s very difficult when you have a child like ours, who can be fine one minute, then a very short time later need to be hospitalized and have surgery. A shunt that doesn’t fail is the exception, rather than the rule,” Clough said, adding, “Hydrocephalus is fairly common, but no one knows about it.”

To create awareness of hydrocephalus and to provide support for others affected by the condition, the Clough family and other families based in Central New York established the REaCH Organization in 2010. The group’s mission is to promote a better quality of life through research and education with the goal of curing hydrocephalus. Clough is president and recently organized a fundraiser in support of Krishnamurthy’s Hydrocephalus Research Fund at the Upstate Foundation.

“We want to promote research into the field of all types of hydrocephalus, participate in the education of families who often don’t know where to turn in order to learn more about it, and to ultimately find a cure that does not involve implanting a shunt since they are currently plagued with so many problems,” Clough said. “We hope to find a cure for hydrocephalus by 2020.”

For more information or to contribute to the Hydrocephalus Research Fund, contact the Upstate Foundation at 315-464-4416.

Caption: The Clough family and the support organization REaCH raised $10,000 for hydrocephalus research conducted by Upstate neurosurgeon Satish Krishnamurthy, MD, center. Clough family members, from left, are Kim, Elyse, Tom and Nathan.