Framework

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Ellen Catania holds son Dylan Catania at their home in Los Angeles. A month shy of his second birthday, it is difficult to tell that Dylan survived surgery to remove nearly half of his brain.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Dylan Catania walks with the help of his father, Jeff Catania, into their home. Dylan had a rare condition called hemimegalencephaly. No more than two dozen children with the condition are born each year in the U.S.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

When Dylan scoots up to Santa and pushes a button at his feet, Santa begins to sing. Dylan knows when the song is about to end and delightedly pushes the button again and again and again.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Dylan aloft on his father's shoulders. Dylan had a radical surgery that removed nearly half of his brain in April.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Dylan, who is learning to feed himself, laughs during dinner.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

After his brain surgery, Dylan has remained seizure-free.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Dylan stands between his father's arms. As he turns 2, his personality is emerging: He likes pasta with red sauce, playing catch or wrestling with his dad, sitting on slick leather chairs at Starbucks to greet strangers, and holding his breath underwater. He does not like baby food, sitting in his car seat or taking naps.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Dylan scoots through the hallway, opening doors in his home.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Ellen and Jeff Catania laugh while watching their son play on their bed.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Jeff Catania watches his son play with the TV remote.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Dylan's sister, Bella, and mother, Ellen Catania, lie next to Dylan. It's bedtime and they want Dylan to fall asleep. Dylan, almost 2, has other plans. He wants to play with the singing Santa in the living room.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

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Dylan Catania’s journey continues

A month shy of his second birthday, it can be difficult to tell that Dylan Catania survived surgery to remove nearly half of his brain.

Doctors who see him scooting across the floor, propelled by his right hand, recognize the telltale “hemi scoot” of a child with hemimegalencephaly. The right side of Dylan’s brain was enlarged and distorted, triggering seizures that worsened steadily after his birth Jan. 16, 2010, even when he was heavily medicated. Specialists at UCLA recommended operating quickly, before the seizures could damage Dylan’s mind. But they warned that the radical surgery would slightly paralyze Dylan’s left side and might not stop his seizures.

The Catanias chose to save Dylan’s mind, and hoped his body would not suffer too much in the long run. Read more and watch a video:  Determined to thrive, a little boy battles a brain disorder

1 Comment

  1. December 29, 2011, 11:22 am

    I am Dylan's Grandmother. I live in Washington state a thousand miles away:-( I am so proud of my son Jeffrey and Ellen his wonderful wife, and my grand daughter Isabella! Last but certainly not least… The wonderful team of Doctors and staff, that gave Jeffrey and Ellen their son back! I love them all so very much and thank God everyday for Dylan being seizure free!!! xoxoxoxoxox Love Always, Grandma

    By: Annabell Bernhardt

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