Nile's Story

"I had a bubble on my brain and they took it out through my nose. Now I can go back to school."

When Nile was three, he had a fever that wouldn't go away. Doctors thought it might be a virus. But when his parents noticed Nile was also struggling to maintain his balance and remember the alphabet, they insisted on an MRI. It showed Nile had a tumor with two golf ball-sized cysts pressing up against his pituitary gland and optic nerves. He was rushed to NewYork-Presbyterian Phyllis and David Komansky Children’s Hospital, where doctors drained the liquid from the cysts using a camera inserted through a small hole cut in his skull.

Dr. Jeffrey P. Greenfield diagnosed Nile with craniopharyngioma, which meant the tumor at the base of his brain was benign but had to be removed because it could cause blindness. The doctor delayed surgery, hoping Nile's nasal passages would open up as he grew because Dr. Greenfield thought they would be able to remove the tumor through his nose. In November 2013, the cyst ballooned and Nile underwent surgery. The risks were great. It was likely he'd need a shunt to alleviate brain fluid. He might need a wheelchair and the surgery might affect his memory. “I was just hoping he would remember me,” said Nile's dad.

During the surgery, doctors threaded rod-like cameras up Nile's nose to transmit images of his brain. They cut through the small bone, separating the sinuses from the brain, and removed the tumor from the base of the skull. The surgery couldn't have gone better. They were able to remove 98% of the tumor with a procedure lasting close to seven hours. Doctors will monitor the residual 2%.

Nile was able to walk out of the hospital with no shunt and with his memory intact. His dad says, “He became known around the hospital as the kid who had a miraculous recovery.”