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Mother speaks after son almost dies when sinus infection spreads to brain

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – How did this happen? That’s what one Laurie Cagle asked herself over and over again. She was shocked and heartbroken, wanting to know what went wrong.

The Tampa mom nearly lost her son after he was diagnosed with a sinus infection that spread to his brain, leaving him near death.

“We just sat there and prayed. There was nothing we could do. I felt helpless. It was a horrible feeling,” she said.

Her 12-year-old son Matthew was diagnosed with the flu in early February and was not getting better. His symptoms were getting worse.

It became so serious that Laurie and her husband rushed their son to two different Tampa Bay area hospitals. Emergency room doctors said he would be fine and sent him home with medicine.

But, Laurie knew better. Something was wrong. She could feel it.

“I knew. I knew there was something not right. I knew something was wrong with him. I could feel it,” she told WFLA, WISH-TV’s sister station in Florida.

It turns out, her instincts were spot-on and as she watched her son suffer, she researched everything she could on the internet. She kept reading about sinus problems.

Then, two weeks after Matthew was first diagnosed with the flu, Laurie was terrified with what she heard from her son.

“Mom, my brain hurts. It feels like my brain is sloshing around in there,” he told her.

He was right.

Six ounces of fluid had accumulated in his brain, a deadly infection that required emergency brain surgery at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.

His neurosurgeon, Dr. Jerry Tuite, says he has seen this sinus infection over the years. It is rare, but it happens.

“That’s the message for parents. Be persistent,” said Dr. Tuite.

Now, Matthew is the second child in the Tampa Bay area in a month to suffer from it.

Ultimately, this neurosurgeon saved Matthew’s life. He praised Matthew’s parents for their persistence in finding treatment when they knew something was wrong.

As for Matthew, he will make a full recovery and is doing quite well. When we sat down with him, the 12-year-old was in great spirits. He smiled and thanked his doctor.

Meanwhile, Matthews parents say they will be thinking this hero for the rest of their lives.