BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — One Baltimore County family has a lot to be thankful for, especially since their 7-year-old son, Declan, has just celebrated another Christmas.

Dr. Alan Cohen is the Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

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Dr. Cohen helped save Declan’s life. When Declan was only four, his parents thought he was too short, so they took him for a checkup.

“They basically were like, Declan is a ticking time bomb,” Declan’s mom, Stevie Ambrose, said. “We don’t know how he has been functioning.”

Dr. Cohen had to postpone a trip when he got the emergency call. Declan went into surgery that night.

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“Declan’s tumor was a giant craniopharyngioma at the base of his brain,” Dr. Cohen said. “It’s a benign tumor in a malignant place. A benign tumor right in the center of the brain, and it’s probably the most difficult tumor that we deal with because of the real estate around it.”

That valuable real estate included optic nerves. The almost nine-hour-long procedure was delicate, and Declan’s parents could do nothing but pace the halls and wait.

“That night I’m signing all the forms for surgery,” Ambrose said. “I just had to like hide in the bathroom so he wouldn’t see me crying because it was like, he could die, he could go blind.”

After three surgeries and scary trips back to the ICU, you’d never be able to tell what Declan’s been through. He even had the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at an Orioles game.

Dr. Cohen said that Declan’s brain looks good now, but his parents will remain watchful so that the tumor doesn’t return.

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Casey Cares is the organization that gave Declan and his family the chance to go to an O’s game. They are doing that for other families who are facing health challenges. For more information about Casey Cares, click here.  

Ava-joye Burnett