Hydrocephalus on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy — CALL TO ACTION

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screen capture from Greys AnatomyLast night, (5/5/2011), ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy featured hydrocephalus for the second time in the show’s history.  The first time was in November of 2009 and involved Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus, which affects older adults.  In last night’s episode ‘White Wedding’, Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) and Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), adopted a baby from Africa with hydrocephalus.

This is a great opportunity to spread awareness and we would like to encourage members of our community to contact their local ABC affiliate and say:

“You may have seen that Dr. Shepherd and Dr. Grey adopted a baby from Africa with hydrocephalus.  While the treatments for hydrocephalus are less accessible in Africa, it is still a condition fraught with very antiquated treatments and difficult outcomes here in the US.  The primary treatment for hydrocephalus is the surgical implantation of a medical device called a shunt.

  • Unfortunately, shunts have the highest failure rate of any medically implanted device — 50% fail within two years
  • Due to this failure rate, many individuals must live a life filled with  repetitive brain surgeries just to survive.
  • Approximately one in every 500 live births has hydrocephalus.

My (son, wife, daughter, self, etc.) has hydrocephalus and have experienced (X) surgeries as a result.  Would your health editor be interested in meeting him/her/me and learning more about this condition that affects approximately 1 million Americans?”

Here is a link to the Wikipedia article listing ABC Affiliates

10 Comments for : Hydrocephalus on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy — CALL TO ACTION
    • Celeste- San Antonio, TX
    • January 6, 2012

    When my daughter was one, she was diagnosed with Hydrocephalus. We were not going to have her go through surgery, but she became worst and had to have surgery two weeks befor she turned 2. Now she is 5 years old, and hasnt looked back. Everyone that come in contact with her is shocked, she is smart, outgoing, walks perfectly, talks like a adult, and active in ( ballet, cheer & tap).
    Teachers & Doctors that meet her cry, because she is like no other and tell I did a wonderful job, but I tell them it wasnt me, its all her!!! I am very blessed to have her in my life!

  1. Reply

    I had the adult on-set of hydrocephalus although the doctors did think that I was born with it.
    I was born in 1950 and will turn 61 this year. First shunt at as 32 after delivering my third child.
    Doctors also said that the pregnancy did not cause the hydrocephalaus but may have brought
    increased pressure in the brain.

    I had three replacements with infections. I have had my present shunt for 19 years!! I am an
    active grandmother of 5 and play golf, enjoy walking and travel.

    I do suffer with headaches and lately they wake me up while sleeping. They do go away after
    getting up into the vertical position for an hour or so. Incontinence is also a problem.

    Thank you all for the information. I feel very blessed to be doing well and also very blessed to
    receive all the Hydrocephalus news!

    • Joy Carroll
    • May 17, 2011

    Hi – I just saw something posted re: Hydrocephalus Association Walk on the Children Hospital’s Boston Facebook page, and never knew that such a thing existed, but think it is very cool … I have had a shunt since I was an infant, but have never really known anyone else with one … though I didn’t get home til I could sleep through the night, except for two revisions when I was six, I went for 18 years with no problems, and realized once I got into my twenties how lucky I was … I had a couple of years with several revisions each, so now am grateful for every day without an explosive headache (and even worse, resultant infection(s)) … though I know it can happen again at any time … I was blessed though with the very best neurosurgeon and care at Children’s Hospital Boston during the first 18 years of my life! 🙂

    • Derek Apodaca
    • May 10, 2011

    I was diagnosed at 3 weeks after birth with Hydrocephalus and have been fortunate enough to have one shunt for the past 21 years of my life with no problems.

    • Miranda L
    • May 9, 2011

    Just an FYI, hydrocephalus has been included in 2 other episodes, that I’m aware of. One was in Season 4, Episode 3. A teenage boy was brought into the clinic and his mother was afraid he was on drugs. His CSF started leaking out of his ear, and they did a CT scan, only to discover he had hydrocephalus. Another was in Season 2, Episode 19. A little boy was brought into the ER after being hit in the head with a baseball during a game.

    There may be other episodes, but these are the 2 that I remember, with the exception of the 2 that you mentioned.

      • Trish E
      • August 28, 2016

      Season 2 ep 10 included a woman pregnant with quints, one of them being diagnosed with hydro in utero. Glad to see them bringing awareness to the condition.

    • Aneta
    • May 8, 2011

    My father has hydrocephalus and have experienced 7 surgeries as a result. Would your health editor be interested in meeting him/her/me and learning more about this condition that affects approximately 1 million Americans?”

    • Mary
    • May 7, 2011

    My daughter was diagnosed with Hydrocephalus in utero at 17weeks. When she was born (via c-section,full term) she had surgery less than 12 hours after she was born. One week later her shunt became infected and they had to remove it, have the fluid drained with a gravity drain (in which case I couldn’t even hold her without a nurses assistance much less nurse her). She had the gravity drain for 10days as she was treated with antibiotics. She then went in for her second shunt where the doctor had lost alot of her CSF during the surgery. I pumped my breastmilk so she could at least be fed my breastmilk and we commuted 45min each way to the hospital every day but one or two. She was finally released from the hospital about 1 1/2 months after she was born. We had no idea what to expect. She is now 9 years old and is doing well. There are no extrordinary disabilities niether neurological or physical (ADHD/low muscle tone/very small stature). We are truly blessed and hope to continue to raise a happy and healthy child. I’m so glad Hydrocephalus is getting more attention. For adults, children and infants.

    • Ashley Fallis
    • May 6, 2011


    My name is Ashley. I have a son, Blake he is 3. He has had 7 surgeries in a 9 month period due to his Hydrocephalus. I would love to share my sons incredible story with ABC. He is a miracle. From how we found out to his numerous surgeries. We feel blessed to have made it to his 3rd birthday which was March 14. He has been surgery free for 3 months! Each month is a milestone! We are grateful for everyday we have with him.

    Thank you very much,
    Ashley Fallis

    • Barbara Millsaps
    • May 6, 2011

    Thank you ABC for airing Grey’s Anatomy on Hydrocephalus. My son is 38 years old and last year he underwent double brain surgery to eliminate his seizures. This didn’t work. In Feb.2011 he underwent VNS System. We are improving and praying this will be the cure. Thank you again for making people aware of this disability.

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