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Teen making strides at Childserve after two invasive brain surgeries

Braelyn Ussery was a healthy girl up until the age of five. That's when her parents noticed a difference in the way she walked.

DES MOINES, Iowa — There are certain freedoms many of us may take for granted, like walking and tying shoes. But for the Ussery family's daughter, those freedoms were restricted. 

Thirteen-year-old Braelyn Ussery is learning to walk again after surviving two invasive brain surgeries. Her journey to recovery is noted as inspiring by the staff who are helping her back on her feet. 

She was a healthy little girl up until the age of five when, according to her dad Gregg Ussery, her parents noticed a difference in the way she walked

"Initially you don't think, you know, it could be something major, you know, we just thought, you know, she sprained her ankle. And so we made a doctor's appointment, " Gregg, said.

Prior to the appointment, he noticed Braelyn started to lose control of her right hand and leg, causing her parents to believe something more serious was wrong

"We went to Des Moines, when we got an MRI and CAT scan, or a CT scan, and we found a mass on our brainstem," Gregg said. "That mass was ... explain it as like a cluster of grapes, but it's weak blood vessels that would burst and cause stroke-like symptoms, which was why her hand and leg stopped working well."

That's when Braelyn had surgery to remove the mass on her brain cells. Within 10 days post-surgery, she was able to walk out of the hospital. But unfortunately, her medical journey didn't end there.

"The mass came back to our brainstem when she was 11. And we had to go back and have another surgery," Braelyn's father said. "And this time, it was a little more invasive."

Although it was the same surgery, she was not able to bounce back as quickly as the last. She started her rehabilitation in Johnston at Childserve, an organization that specializes in pediatric health care.

"Braylon first came to Childserve," CEO Teri Wahlig said. "She had significant needs. She wasn't able to walk. She had a feeding tube and a tracheostomy to help her breathe."

Braelyn is making strides towards her goal to be able to walk on her own. Her dad believes when she recovers, she hopes to work at a place like Childserve.

"She doesn't like the spotlight on her, but she wants to be able to help other kids," he said.

In April, Childserve will hold its annual Bubble Ball, with Braelyn as an honorary guest.

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