Zach had his shunt surgery on Monday (yesterday) morning. Everything went as expected with no complications. The shunt was placed on the right side of his brain as doctors deem this the "safer" side to preserve language and other more important cognitive functions that are located on the left side of the brain. The surgery itself took about an hour and a half, but with the prep time and recovery time, it all took about 4 hours.
Kim, Zach's mom, spent the whole day with him and Anna went over to Hopkins as soon as Zach came out of the recovery room. The doctors said that it looked like there was definitely some build up of pressure. Zach also had a head CT and a belly x-ray yesterday to make sure everything was in its proper place and it all looks fine. He will remain at Hopkins for a few days until doctors are sure his shunt is fine and that there is no infection (one of the main complications is infection). After Hopkins, he will move back to Kernan to begin rehab therapy again.
There was originally some question about performing the surgery, but anything the doctors could do to improve Zach's responsiveness would be worth the effort. So now we will all wait, hope, pray and watch for a drop in pressure and hopefully begin to show some improvement for Zach.
[September 7th, 2007] 2:45pm
Zach did not have surgery yesterday. They were waiting for his urine sample to come back since he had a urinary track infection (UTI) a few days ago and they don't want to operate until his infection is completely cleared. His urine came back with bacteria still so they need to wait a little bit longer. They treated the UTI with antibiotics that turned out to not be strong enough. So they had to give him a stronger dose of antibiotics. This extra precaution before surgery is to prevent infection from getting into his bloodstream and into his brain. The neurosurgeon is waiting to get a blessing from Infectious Disease that there is no more bacteria in his urine and that it is totally OK to operate.
The operation is now expected to happen on Monday or Tuesday. Keep your fingers crossed. Because they are waiting another few days for the surgery, they are going to take out the catheter that is currently in his back, which is measuring and relieving the fluid/pressure to prevent meningitis. They also have Zach on Ritalin as a brain stimulant.
Anna told me the fundraiser at Bert's last night was great. She saw a lot of Zach's colleagues from Hopkins. Everybody was so supportive, plus there were so many prizes to raffle, and they were good prizes, too. The fundraiser last night raised $3,360.00 just from the raffle and the 50/50! This does not include the t-shirt sales and the 20% from Bert's on food sales. The check they gave Anna was even a pug-themed check!
We'd like to thank Atlantic Printworks for printing more Zach Sowers t-shirts and Logolize It for printing Zach Sowers baseball caps (we only have 50 hats but can always order more). Again, the hats and t-shirts are being sold at 2910 on the Square in Canton. They will be sold in Frederick too we're still working out the logistics of that. Stay tuned!
[September 6th, 2007] 10:30am
Tonight -- JHU-JHH Neighbors & Friends Night Out: A Fundraiser for Zach Sowers
Zachs colleagues have organized a fundraiser at the former Rocky Run in Charles Village. Bert's Eats & Drink at 3105 St. Paul Street (formerly Rocky Run) has agreed to be the area sponsor by donating 20% of food sales (only food sales!!), and there are lots of ways planned to help out Zach & Anna as well as enjoy the friendships that encourage us to support each other in the kinds of challenges Zach & Anna currently are facing. It will be an evening of hope, friendship and fun. There will also be a 50/50 drawing and drawings for a lot of door prizes.
You can get more details on the event at this website and find out who is selling tickets at most of our JH locations.
Also, Zach's surgery is today and we all wish the best of luck! I'll make sure to update everyone tomorrow morning on his progress.
[September 5th, 2007] 11:30am
Zach is scheduled to get the shunt procedure on Thursday. The surgery should only take about an hour. They began draining out his fluid last Thursday and Friday and saw no major changes in his neurological activity but everyone is hoping that the shunt will lead to an improvement. When they put in the catheter to monitor his pressure this past Tuesday, they saw that his pressure was never abnormally high. Zach's doctor has already told us that we won't see improvements overnight. It will most likely be weeks and/or months. Zach's doctor also examined his MRI very closely and said it doesn't look all that devastating so there is definitely still a lot of hope that his neurons will rewire and Zach will come back to us. It is actually somewhat perplexing that Zach isn't more responsive given his MRI results. So, we just have to hope, pray and stay positive that his body is just taking its time recovering and that he will wake up.
More Zach Sowers t-shirts and hats are available. As stated earlier, sizes S, M, L, XL and XXL were ordered. The t-shirts and hats will be sold in Baltimore at 2910 on the Square, which is an awesome store in the Canton Square (near Helen's Garden). The shirts and hats will be sold in Frederick too, but we are still figuring out the location(s). Please only purchase the t-shirts using check (made out to the Zach Sowers Support Fund) or cash. If you are interested in selling t-shirts and hats at your venue, please contact Anna via the "email us" form in the upper right hand corner of the page.
Thank you to Firestones, Jennifers, and Bushwallers in Frederick for being the first three official participants of the Sept. 30 Frederick's Neighbors' Night Out. Also, Anna is still waiting to collect checks from a handful of restaurants from the Baltimore event. As soon as she gets the remaining few, the total amount raised will be posted on the site.
Lastly, please VOTE on TUESDAY, SEPT 11th for our next mayor, city councilperson and city council president.
[August 28th, 2007] 5:30pm
Hello from the beach! I have limited access to the inter-web, but I got this update from Anna yesterday so I wanted to update everyone:
"Zach moved safely back to Hopkins today. They did a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) to measure his intracranial pressure and it was 18 out of 20. 20 is the cutoff for normal so he was on the very high side of normal. They will put in a catheter into his lower spine tomorrow so that they can constantly measure his pressure. They will measure his pressure over the next few days and then release the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF). After releasing the CSF, they will see if Zach is more responsive. From there, they will decide whether a shunt is needed.
I spoke at a Take Back the Streets rally on Saturday and it went well. My speech can be found at keiffermitchell.com and also at on baltimoresun.com.
Amy, a long-time friend of ours (she grew up on the same street as us) came in from Florida to visit because she and Zach share the same birthday, August 23. We went to the Hospital on Saturday so she could give Zach his birthday presents and then we celebrated Amy and Zach's birthdays with bowling and beer! About 30 of us went duckpin bowling for Zach because that's what we did for Zach's birthday last year and it was a ton of fun. My new best friend, Josh, brought his video camera so we were able to get good footage of everyone having a great time in honor of Zach and share the video with him soon.
Also, if you live in the Southeastern District (Patterson Park, Highlandtown, Canton, Butchers Hill, Brewers Hill, Fells Point, etc), please attend the Southeastern Police Community meetings, held the first Monday of every month. The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 4 (because of Labor Day) at 5710 Eastern Avenue. Please visit the site for more info. It is important that we all attend these meetings so we can help the police and they can help us. If you don't live in the Southeastern District, I'm sure you can google your community meetings and ATTEND.
Lastly, Zach's colleagues are organizing a fundraiser on Thursday, Sept. 6 in Charles Village. The event will be held from 5-9 p.m. at various bars and restaurants in the Charles Village area. When I get more info, I will definitely post on the site."
[August 22nd, 2007] 1:00pm
This is directly from Anna:
"Take Back the Streets Rally
Saturday, Aug. 25 at 10 a.m.
Corner of Lafayette and Arlington Avenues, Baltimore, MD 21217
Mayoral Candidate Keiffer Mitchell
Bringing All Our Public Safety Officers Together to Help Our Communities
If you can attend the rally, please do so. I will be speaking and would love to see supporters in their Zach Sowers t-shirts. Although this event is being held by Keiffer Mitchell's campaign, I am not endorsing either candidate. I am speaking out against crime, regardless of which candidate hosts the event. I am doing this for Zach and everyone else that wants to see a change in Baltimore's crime crisis.
Also, more t-shirts have been ordered. They should be done by Friday, Aug. 24. I have ordered Smalls, Mediums, Larges, XL, and XXLs. T-shirts will be sold at various vendors in Baltimore and Frederick. I can only mail them if you live outside of Baltimore and Frederick as it was extremely time consuming to package and mail them out. I hope you understand. A list of where to buy tshirts and how to order (if you don't live in the area) to follow soon. Thanks again for your positive thoughts and prayers!!"
[August 21st, 2007] 1:15pm
Zach's birthday is on Thursday and we are going to celebrate with cake and beer, two of his favorite things. Maybe once Zach smells either the cake or the beer, it'll get his electrical impulses going in his brain and he'll wake up.
After neurosurgery saw Zach's latest MRI, they agreed that he needed to come back to Hopkins to have his swollen ventricle drained. The cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) has built up too much and has not reabsorbed on its own. They will drain and measure the pressure using a lumbar puncture (spinal tap). If necessary, they may leave a catheter in his spine for a while to let the fluid drain out. And if it doesn't seem like his brain can drain out the fluid on its own, they may have to put in a shunt. A shunt basically routes the CSF from the brain to the stomach. The doctors are hoping that relieving the pressure will allow Zach to more alert since this increased buildup of fluid could be having an affect on Zach's progress. Lets just hope that everything goes well for Zach in neurosurgery.
There was another article in the Baltimore Sun about Zach and Anna. The article was written by the photographer who took the shot of Anna kissing Zach's hand.