Basketball injury leads to life-saving discovery for young girl
"One of the other girls sitting on the bench saw that I was having trouble, so she said, 'Are you okay?' And I said, 'No, please get me out,'" said Brianna. "So she told the coach that I was having trouble breathing, and he pulled me out of the game."
At first her mother thought it was a concussion, but Brianna's condition got worse.
"She was actually moaning in pain and vomiting about every three to four minutes," said Brianna's father, Chad Laux.
Brianna was taken to DeVos Children's Hospital, where doctors found bleeding on her brain. Once they drained fluid to reduce the swelling, the discovered an arteriovenous malformation that had a small aneurysm in the center of it.
AVMs occur when blood vessels in the brain tangle and divert blood from the arteries to the veins. They're rare; they happen in about one percent of the general population. Experts say males are more susceptible.
Once the swelling in Brianna's brain went down a bit, Dr. Justin Singer with Spectrum Health Medical Group used a special bioglue on Brianna's arteries to stop the bleeding in her brain.
Just days after the AVM was discovered, doctors operated to remove it. Because of its location near the speech center of Brianna's brain, doctors performed the procedure from beneath her.
"About 10 million thoughts went through my mind about whether or not I was going to have my daughter anymore," said Laux. "I can't even begin to tell you what a great job the doctors had to have done, because you know, some of the risks they talk about: some of her vision may be blocked, or it could affect her speech, it could affect how she walks, it could affect her learning "
The procedure was successful, but it still took a while for Brianna to recover.
"She was laying on her back without eating for 7 or 8 days so she lost quite a bit of weight," said Chad Laux. "I could see she lost all of her muscle mass, and was getting skinny. [Then] she finally started eating, and doing more and doing more."
Eventually, the 12-year-old began walking again.
"They were having me walk around the hospital with the belt strap on, but they weren't holding it after a while, which made me feel happy because I was actually walking by myself," Brianna told FOX 17.
Brianna is once again thriving, inspiring others and taking part in her beloved archery. She hopes to even one day take her shooting to the Olympics.
"I'm shooting new records all the time, and I haven't had a headache in weeks, well, a week," Brianna joked.
"Knowing that she's back and that she's healthy and that she can do the stuff she loves, it's unbelievable," said Chad Laux. "I mean this has been a miracle in seven different ways."
The Laux family says they're grateful to all of the doctors and medical staff that helped Brianna.
They hope others will learn from her story that sometimes an injury is not merely a concussion and that it's worth getting checked out.