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California Siblings Diagnosed With Brain Tumors 2 Weeks Apart

By Allen Zhong

When 6-year-old Kalea Avery was diagnosed with a brain tumor, her father, Duncan Avery, never expected more bad news to be on its way. Two weeks later, his 4-year-old son, Nohea Avery, was also found suffering from the same type of brain tumor as Kalea.

“We broke down in tears,” Duncan Avery, who lives in California, told the LA Times, “How could two kids in 14 days have the exact same tumor? How does that happen.”

Kalea was diagnosed with a brain tumor called Medulloblastoma after experiencing several weeks of severe headaches. Then, Noah also began to complain of headaches, pointing to the area between his eyebrows, the same place as his elder sister. Duncan Avery thought his son was copying his sister, but Noah started vomiting and walking oddly with his body leaning to the right. On June 21, Noah was also diagnosed with Medulloblastoma.

The siblings were hospitalized in Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach. Kalea and Noah had their brain tumors removed on June 11 and June 25 respectively.

Kalea is in the oncology ward and is recovering from the tumor resection. She went outside on June 28, for the first time in 20 days. Noah is still in the pediatric intensive care unit, according to a June 28 update from the family’s GoFundMe page.

“I thought, ‘Huh, same last name, how odd,’” Dr. Ramin Javahery, who performed both operations, told the news outlet, “…Then I was told by the oncologist about what was going on, and I’m like, ‘Oh, my God.’” Dr. Sonia Partap, a Stanford University professor who studies pediatric brain tumors, also thinks this case rare. “None of us have probably seen that,” she told the LA Times.

Based on an introduction from National Organization for Rare Disorders, medulloblastoma occurs in the cerebellum, which is the part of the brain located at the base of the skull, just above the brainstem. It’s the most common brain tumor in children. The symptoms associated with medulloblastoma depend on location and size of the medulloblastoma and whether the tumor has spread to other areas.

Duncan Avery is currently a surf coach at Redondo Union High School. The mother, Nohea Avery, is a nurse practitioner. The family keeps supporters updated on the siblings’ condition through an Instagram account and a GoFundMe page. According to the page, $102,000 of the $150,000 goal had been raised on Friday morning.

 

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