Boy Hou Guozhu (侯国柱), 8, is a “half brain boy” from Dongying of Sandong Province, China. Guozhu was not born with “half brain” but due to the brain surgery (hemispheresectomy) resulting from the treatment of Rasmussen’s Encephalitis. Born as half of a pair of healthy twins, Guozhu came to the world just three minutes later than his brother. Guozhu’s “birth defect” did not manifest until he was three years old when his left-side limbs developed habitual muscle spasms. Guozhu’s parents sought the treatments for their little son in many hospitals but no any betterment was received. In 2006, Guozhu’s father Hou Xiaofeng brought him to Beijing Sanbo Brain Institute where the doctors diagnosed Guozhu with Rasmussen’s encephalitis*. Since then, Guozhu had underwent four major skull-opening surgeries and his right cerebral hemisphere was removed. According to those doctors/nurses in Beijing Sanbo Brain Institute, Guozhu’s operations were “very successful” and his convulsive symptoms “almost disappeared”, but because of the cutting edge infection spread after discharging from the hospital, Guozhu’s right-side skull bone was forced to be removed. Witnessing his son having only half of an brain left, father Hou Xiaofeng understandably said the hospital did not cure his son. Mr. Hou sold his house and all of those belongings with a bit value to pay the medical bills, he still owned more than 100,000RMB (~15,000USD, an astronautic amount of money for most of the Chinese peasants) to the hospital. Mr. Hou told Sohu Video Blog he has no any money to continue his son’s future treatment. Now, the poor father and son even does not have money to buy train tickets to go back to Shandong from Beijing.
*Rasmussen’s encephalitis, also Chronic Focal Encephalitis (CFE), is a rare, progressive neurological disorder, characterized by frequent and severe seizures, loss of motor skills and speech, hemiparesis (paralysis on one side of the body), encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), dementia, and mental deterioration. The disorder, which affects a single cerebral hemisphere, generally occurs in children under the age of 10. [Wikipedia]
Update: It seemed Guozhu’s father should not worry too much about his son. There are quite some boys who can have a normal live with only the half brain.
Amazing Kid With Only Half A Brain–Ahad Israfil was shot in the head and lost his right hemisphere but survived.
Half a Brain is Enough, a book written by Argentina neuroscientist Antonio Battro told a great story of a boy named Nico who underwent the similar surgeries as Hou Guozhu
Half a Brain is Enough is the extraordinary story of Nico, a three-year-old boy who was given a right hemispherectomy to control his severe intractable epilepsy. Antonio Battro, a distinguished neuroscientist and educationalist, describes his work with Nico over several years and explains how a boy with only half a brain has developed into a bright child with relatively minor physical and mental impairment. Eight years later, he runs and plays with only a slight limp. So far, there is no significant cognitive or affective disorder and it appears that Nico’s so-called right-hemisphere skills–mathematics, visual arts, and music–have migrated to the left hemisphere. At school, he performs as a child of his age in arithmetic and music; only his draftsmanship and handwriting are poor for his age, but he has not lost his cognitive spatial ability. Battro and his colleagues have been studying and teaching Nico with computers and he is mastering written language with a word processor and is able to make good graphic designs with a computer. Nico performs well above average verbally, a left-brain skill. Battro charts what he calls Nico’s “neuroeducation” with humor and compassion in a book that is part case history and part a study of consciousness and the brain. Filled with fascinating details about Nico’s abilities, Half a Brain is Enough also includes the latest information about brain surgery, neuronal architecture, and the use of technology in education. Throughout the book, it is clear that Battro and his collleagues are delighted with Nico’s progress and grateful for the opportunity to help him and learn with him. Antonio Battro received his MD from the School of Medicine at the University of Buenos Aires and his PhD in Psychology from the University of Paris. He has worked with Jean Piaget, Marvin Minsky, and others and is well known around the world for his publications in cognitive development. He lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Update: What a surprise! China Foto Press, one of the top photo agencies in China, scooped this of my post on March 27, 2009. The context was used as the caption for two photos of “half brain” boy Hou Guozhu visited by hairy man Yu Zhenhuan.
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