He is now a happy nine-year-old who loves school and playing on his computer but in 2000 his parents Rebekah and Steven Walker-Cox, from Yate, South Gloucestershire, made the brave decision to allow doctors to carry out the revolutionary treatment on their fragile son to wash out toxic fluids that were inflating his brain.
At that time Isaac was one of only a handful of babies who had had the Drainage, Irrigation and Fibrinolytic Therapy (DRIFT) pioneered by Andrew Whitelaw, Professor of Neonatal Medicine at the University of Bristol, and Ian Pople, paediatric neurosurgeon at North Bristol NHS Trust.
Isaac was born 13 weeks early weighing just 2lbs and 10oz at Southmead Hospital and at just 48 hours old he had a haemorrhage on the right side of his brain.
The ventricles in Isaac's brain were filling with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and blood causing 'hydrocephalus', where a build-up of fluid puts pressure on the brain.
The standard treatment for the majority of patients with 'hydrocephalus' after a haemorrhage is to have needles inserted repeatedly into the spine or head to drain fluid and, after two to three months to have a shunt inserted permanently connecting the brain to the abdomen. But this treatment has risks including infection and sudden blockage.
Professor Whitelaw and Mr Pople's long-term study published online in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, has shown that babies who have had DRIFT instead of standard treatment go on to have less developmental problems into childhood.
The study showed that at two years old children who had had DRIFT after a brain haemorrhage when they were babies were less likely to have severe cognitive disability and their mental development was higher than in children who had standard treatment.
Isaac had the DRIFT procedure
|Contact: Joanne Fryer|
University of Bristol