Looking at Amelio Hospedales he looks like a normal, healthy child. It is hard to believe that he has hydrocephalus, a brain condition that has no cure. It causes an excessive build-up of fluid inside the skull that leads to brain swelling, causing the head to grow larger than usual. It causes brain damage, disability and death. Only 20 per cent of children afflicted with the condition reach adulthood. Hospedales, however, seems to be beating the odds. Yesterday he turned 15 and is celebrating today. Every year that passes is a tremendous blessing for him, and his family says it is the faith and hope in God that keeps them going and looking forward to another year to celebrate his life. The family has witnessed other children with his condition die or become wards at the Princess Elizabeth Home in Woodbrook. But Hospedales’ family has kept the faith.
Faith and trust in God
His grandmother, Muriel Renaud says her strength and unwavering faith in God along with the outpouring of love and support by family members that has pulled him through his trials. At the age of two, when doctors told them that he would never make it and advised her to go home and prayer, Renaud says she did just that. She says she practically lived with him in the hospital, stood by him during his nine surgeries, weaned him back to health after he was unable to walk and see. “It was the happiest moment when I walked him outside and he said, Ganny moon! “I was so happy because his sight returned.” This was the first of many answered prayers, as the doctors again told that he would not live past the age of seven. While his family’s desire and birthday wish for him is to be healed, Hospedales wants a Blu cellphone, pepperoni pizza, cake and ice cream for his birthday. His mother Allison Renaud-Rojas has a birthday wish of her own. Her desire is for everyone to treat him like a normal child. “I know he may have to go through a lot of discrimination because he is different, but I just want people to treat him like a normal person,” she said.
Hospedales has had his fair share of being teased at school. But he has learned from it.“ He heckles them back now,” Renaud-Rojas said. At five feet six inches tall, like a typical boy he wants to run, play football and learn karate, but his over-protective grandmother will not have it. But he is adamant about going jogging with the family, despite slight co-ordination problems. His head and his stomach have to be carefully guarded, as doctors have surgically implanted a shunt—a flexible tube and valve system that drains the cerebrospinal fluid from the brain to another part of the body—in his stomach. But Hospedales is beginning to understand his limits.
Amelio IT savvy
Renaud-Rojas says her son is very brave, confident, witty and intelligent. Although he experiences some difficulty in academics, she says he is charting his own career path as a technician. He already knows what he wants to be. “I want to own a Digicel and bmobile outlets,” Hospedales says in no uncertain terms. Renaud-Rojas says he loves fixing phones and is becoming very IT savvy, thanks to his uncle, Warren Renaud. “I love to be around my uncle, he teaches me to be a man,” the teenager said. Renaud-Rojas says her son’s experiences have not only increased her faith in God but has brought the family closer together, one of the reason she thinks God has spared her son’s life so far.3
• For more information on hydrocephalus visit the Web site www.hcrn.org