GIRARD - Bryce Fricker has spent much of his six weeks of life battling for his life after suffering a burst blood vessel in his head.
What started more than three weeks ago as a very frightening situation for his family with his being flown to Akron Children's Hospital, the infant is now recovering from a surgery he received last week and could face one or two more surgeries.
Bryce's parents, Joel and Samantha Fricker of Girard, have spent the past month at the Ronald McDonald House near Akron Children's Hospital where Bryce has been a patient since mid-November.
Samantha and Joel Fricker are shown with their son Bryce at Akron Children’s Hospital. Three weeks after his birth on Oct. 28, Bryce began having seizures as a result of a burst blood vessel in his brain. He has been at Akron Children’s Hospital ever since.
Joel Fricker said problems began three weeks after his birth on Oct. 28.
''On Nov. 18, he started having seizures, and my wife and mother-in-law called 911 for an ambulance and took him to Akron Children's Hospital's Beeghly Campus, where they couldn't do anything for him, so they life-flighted him to Akron's main hospital,'' Joel Fricker said.
Samantha Fricker was in the ambulance and was informed of how severe the situation was.
How to help
A fundraiser bake sale will be held around 12:15 p.m. Sunday following the children's holiday prgram at Summit Academy of God Church, 2724 Salt Springs Road, McDonald.
- Raffle tickets are being sold for prizes including two tickets to the Jan. 1 Browns-Steelers game; a $50 Walmart gift card and a $25 Outback Steakhouse gift card. The drawing will be held Dec. 23. For tickets, call Justin Thomas at 330-980-5469.
Follow Bryce's progress online at www.prayforbryce.com.
''It was a miracle he made it," Joel Fricker said. "They weren't sure he would survive the 15-minute flight. For a while it was very scary because we didn't know what it was."
Initial prognosis was that Bryce had bleeding in the ventricles in his head caused by blood vessels that burst.
Joel Fricker said at first doctors thought it was a blood vessel malformation he was born with. Hospital staff worked to clear the blood from of his brain with an external drain attached to his head that was used to get the blood out of the ventricles. The blood vessel has also begun to repair itself, Joel Fricker said.
''If it had been a malformation, then surgery would have been required down the road,'' he said. ''It has been a very hard situation. They did an MRI (last) week and determined that it was not a malformation but a blood vessel that had burst in his brain.''
He said this can happen to children a couple of days after birth, but it is more unusual three weeks later.
The doctors determined that young Bryce needed a feeding tube inserted because he can't swallow.
That surgery took place on Dec. 8, and currently Bryce is recovering as his family learns to feed him with the tube.
Amanda Teutsch, Samantha Fricker's sister and Bryce's aunt, said the baby has had severe respiratory distress, is on a ventilator, and doctors are discussing the need for additional surgeries including one on his brain and possibly a tracheotomy.
Teutsch said the family is concerned because Bryce is not doing as well as they had hoped and will not be returning home likely until January or February.
''It's hard because he takes one step forward and then two steps back,'' she said.
The Frickers said they learned that babies are very resilient.
''We didn't know what we were in for three weeks ago," Joel Fricker said. "We know in our heart the prayers for him have greatly benefited him."
Joel Fricker said with any brain trauma injury, there is no certainty in the long term.
Joel Fricker, a Girard native, and Samantha Fricker, a Hubbard native, have been spending time at the Ronald McDonald House. He travels to work at Trumbull Industries and goes to the hospital daily and on weekends. Samantha Fricker is a preschool teacher.
Bryce is their first child and has begun smiling at people and showing emotion and touching people's fingers, his father said.
The family said the support and prayers have helped as Bryce went through the first surgery.
Teutsch said the situation at times has been quite frightening for the family, and that they are concerned with how Bryce will recover and what he still faces.
''The many prayers, support and love have come through in so many ways. People have come to the hospital to see him and spend time with us,'' Joel Fricker said, mentioning that people have donated gas cards for his travel from work to the hospital and have sent gifts for the baby and cards.
Teutsch has helped organize fundraising events, including a fundraiser bake sale set for around 12:15 p.m. Sunday following the children's holiday program at Summit Academy of God Church, 2724 Salt Springs Road, McDonald.
Fundraising efforts to help with medical costs include a raffle for two tickets to the Browns-Steelers game on New Year's Day, $50 Walmart gift card and $25 Outback Steakhouse gift card. Tickets are $5 each with the drawing on Dec. 23. For tickets, call Justin Thomas at 330-980-5469.
Information about Bryce's progress is available online at www.prayforbryce.com