Kennewick's baby Patrick recovering after brain surgery

Just 15 days before his first birthday, Patrick Murphy had the brain surgery his parents say was needed to save his life.

On Friday, Patrick seemed to be recovering well from the surgery that is supposed to stop the seizures that constantly wracked his little body.

His parents, Shawn and Suzie Murphy of Kennewick, decided to have the procedure at Seattle Children's Hospital after they were unable to raise enough money to have a specialist in Arizona perform the surgery.

Their son was born Sept. 2, 2010, with a birth defect called cortical dysplasia. Part of his brain didn't develop properly in the womb, causing him to have daily seizures.

Left unchecked, the seizures could damage other parts of his brain.

Tests in July showed that Patrick's brain was continuously suffering from spasms, some that were masked by his skull, his dad said in a phone interview from Seattle.

His parents started noticing the seizures when he was just 2 months old. At 9 months, Patrick's legs and arms were lying limp and his motor skill development lagged behind other children his age.

The only long-term solution was to remove the abnormal portion of his brain, said specialists.

The four-hour surgery started at 10 a.m. Thursday. And surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Ojemann told his parents that it was a good sign that Patrick didn't bleed too much and needed only about half a pint of blood.

After the lesion was removed, sensors showed all his brain functions at normal, said his father.

Now, Patrick is moving and looking around quite a bit, despite some pain, his dad said. It's early to tell though, because Ojemann told his parents that some children will do well and then decline after surgery.

"He's just been trying to eat as much as he can," Shawn Murphy said.

It's not clear how long Patrick will have to stay at the hospital.

"We want to make sure that he's not in pain and make sure there's not a relapse," his dad said.

Patrick's siblings, Daniel 9, Caitlin, 8, Sarah, 6, and Elizabeth, 4, have been handling it well, he said.

Time will tell how the surgery will improve Patrick's delayed development.

"It's been a long road," Murphy said.

He said they plan to have Patrick work with the Children's Developmental Center in Richland. He has an appointment Sept. 1, the day before he turns 1.

The Murphys wanted Patrick's surgery to be done at Phoenix Children's Hospital in Arizona, but their insurance, Group Health, wouldn't cover it. The company said it would cover the surgery if it was done in its Washington network of providers.

Murphy said they were in Arizona, prepping for the surgery, when the Arizona hospital's administration told them that they need to have $200,000 to continue. They didn't have it.

So Patrick had the surgery at Children's Hospital instead.

Still, the Murphys aren't completely sure Group Health will cover the Seattle surgery's costs because they have yet to receive a letter from the insurance company.

So donations are still needed, and two more community events are planned to help.

Murphy said they appreciate all the support the community has given them, from holding bake sales and spaghetti feeds to buying the family groceries.

"It's just been phenomenal the amount of support that the Tri-Cities community has given us," he said.

Today, a yard sale is planned starting at 7 a.m. at 8011 Madeira Drive in Pasco to benefit Patrick.

And on Aug. 28, the Knights of Columbus has organized a spaghetti feed from 4 to 7 p.m. at Dillon Hall at St. Joseph's Church, 520 S. Garfield St., Kennewick.

Donations also can be made through PayPal at www.savebabypatrick.com or by donation to the "Patrick Murphy" account at Hapo Community Credit Union.