A boy who was always thought to be cheerful due to random, almost uncontrollable fits of laughter is actually suffering a very serious illness.
According to Inside Edition, doctors at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital discovered a benign mass in the brain of 9-year-old, Justin Cho. The condition, known as a hypothalamic hamartoma, causes a rare form of seizures, which for Justin appears as a fit of giggles two or three times a day.
Justin’s father, Robert Cho told Inside Edition that it’s something his son has had since he was an infant, adding, “We thought that was just a sign of his body telling him he’s tired.”
Cho explained the disorder would usually happen once in the late afternoon, and again in the middle of the night as he was sleeping. Each burst of laughter lasted only a few seconds.
Two years ago, Cho and his wife watched their son have a full-blown seizure as he woke up one morning.
“I’ve never seen a seizure before,” Cho said. “All our kids have always been healthy. This was the first time I’ve seen it. It was dreadful.”
After months of varying tests, Justin was referred to UCLA’s pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Aria Fallah, who discovered the mass in his brain. The doctor explained that if they left it untreated, the mass would cause learning disabilities, premature puberty and even death.
As reported in a UCLA press release, Fallah and his team got to work using lasers to treat and remove the tumor in a minimally invasive procedure that the neurosurgeon says is a way to “cook the mass from the inside out.” Once it is destroyed, he says the epilepsy is gone.
A day after the procedure, Justin was about to return home, cured of his rare condition.
“He never even missed a single soccer practice,” Cho joked. “It’s amazing. It’s definitely a miracle.”
[H/T: UCLA Health Press Room]