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New York boy is in dire straits after being diagnosed with brain cancer coronavirus epidemic.
Matteo Ferruzzi, 4, tested positive for COVID-19, making it difficult to start chemotherapy for at least a year on an inoperable malignant brain tumor.
In February, Matteo showed symptoms of headaches and upset stomachs, which led doctors to believe that he may have contracted a gastric virus. But the boy’s parents noticed that his eyes crossed, and further examination by an ophthalmologist revealed severely swollen optic nerves. Matteo was then transported to the Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park for an MRI.
Matteo’s mother Jennifer Ferruzzi knew something was wrong the moment a multitude of doctors rushed into the hospital room. She was told that Matteo has a large mass on her brain and also hydrocephalus, which is the accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain. Doctors advised immediate surgery.
As Ferruzzi and her husband longed for a second opinion, Matteo’s chances of survival seemed grim if he did not undergo immediate surgery to treat hydrocephalus.
“It was obviously the worst night of my life, it’s just a parent’s worst nightmare,” Ferruzzi told Fox News.
Shortly after the boy’s brain surgery, medical staff told the family to go home due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
At home, fluid quickly started to build up in Matteo’s brain, and he had a second brain surgery two days later. The doctors placed a shunt in Matteo’s head, made a lumbar puncture and put an opening in the chest for chemotherapy. The decisions were executed quickly because the port was considered elective surgery. (The United States decided to postpone elective surgery during the coronavirus pandemic.)
To make matters worse, Ferruzzi quickly developed symptoms of COVID-19, tested positive, and quarantined for 14 days. She said that she thought she was exposed to the virus while in the hospital.
“It was so difficult because he just had surgery and I couldn’t be there with him to make him feel better and to comfort him,” said Ferruzzi. “It was a challenge in itself.”
Shortly after, Ferruzzi’s husband Anthony and Matteo also tested positive for the coronavirus. Ferruzzi’s parents, who are currently monitoring Matteo’s siblings – his twin sister, Nicolette, and his older brother, Nico – have also tested positive for COVID-19. Fortunately, however, they had only mild symptoms, she said.
In an effort to limit tumor growth as soon as possible, doctors at the Cohen Children’s Medical Center plan to start chemotherapy with Matteo in an isolated area of the hospital given his positive COVID-19 test, said Ferruzzi. He can only receive treatment in the pediatric post-anesthesia unit of the hospital, where he would normally receive chemotherapy, after a negative test for the new virus.
“The outpouring of love, support and prayers has been incredible – especially when the world is going through such a difficult time,” said Ferruzzi. She thanks the medical staff of the Cohen Children Medical Center, namely the neurosurgeon Dr Mark Mittler, Dr Mark Atlas and Dr Hiren Patel from the oncology team.
Ferruzzi hopes his son’s story will raise awareness of brain cancer.
“If your child has symptoms of something and they complain about it, have it checked because it is better to be safe than sorry,” said Ferruzzi. “Even if it’s nothing, at least you have peace of mind.”
Friends of the Ferruzzi family have opened a GoFundMe page, with more than $ 43,000 already raised to support Matteo.