This Kansas boy delights his fellow patients with lemonade as he recovers at the hospital.
When life gave him lemons, this eight year old boy recovering from a life threatening brain surgery made lemonade.
Ulises Ornelas, a third grader from Garden City, Kansas, suffered from rare neurological disorder that caused a tangled mass of blood vessels to form on his brain, affecting his muscle movement so much that he walked with a limp.
Ornelas had no severe, or even noticeable symptoms, but his mom, Karina Ornelas, 28, realized he had muscle tightness causing him to walk differently, so she took him to pediatricians, who first thought it was an orthopedic issue. After months of back and forth at the doctors, and countless MRIs, Ulises was diagnosed with a rare disorder called Cavernous Hemangioma.
About 1 in 100 to 200 people have cavernous malformations, according to Johns Hopkins medicine. Symptoms typically include headaches or seizures, but Ulises had none. The courageous elementary school kid underwent an eight hour surgery in July where neurosurgeons removed the blood clots entirely.
“Surgery scared me. Having them remove a huge part of his skull was terrifying,” Ornelas tells Moneyish, of the difficult decision to have her son go under anesthesia at such a young age. “There was that risk that he could bleed during surgery. But knowing there have been similar cases made us feel a lot better about getting it done.”
Despite going through hell and physical trauma, Ornelas says her little guy stayed optimistic, kept smiling and even memorized how to spell the names of all of his doctors.
After the operation, Ulises was in intensive care for two days, and couldn’t move at all. Now, he’s doing physical therapy at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska. Since he got there a month ago, he’s been standing up and walking.
“He’s doing really good. When we first got here he couldn’t even stand up on his left leg, now he walks on his own. He’s getting more strength and muscle in both legs,” says Ornelas.
Some of his recovery is via a makeshift lemonade cart on wheels, a sweet idea his sister had.
“Back at home they got a lemonade stand once for Christmas, but they never really sold lemonade on it. One of his nurses here wanted him to have one. She really pushed for it and finally was able to do it therapeutically,” says Ornelas.
Ulises pushes the cart around the hospital to help him walk. A nurse helped him get pitchers of lemonade and ice from the hospital cafeteria. At first he gave out the summer sip to patients and staff for free.
“Then all of the sudden he decided to sell it for 50 cents,” says Ornelas, of her smart cookie.
“He made $54 in one day,” she adds.
Ulises’ recovery could take up to six weeks physically, and up to nine months internally for his body to heal, so he has to avoid any head injuries that could cause bleeding.
Once he’s better, the charismatic youngster who love sports hopes to be able to drive his Go-Kart, his mom says.
“He’s really looking forward to driving that once we’re back home,” Ornelas says.
As for all that lemonade stand money, Ulises donated it to the pediatric unit at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals where he’s getting treatment. He only bought himself one toy – a Ferrari.
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