12-year-old’s amazing survival story after suffering brain hemorrhage

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ST. LOUIS – Twelve-year-old Jackson Scharf is lucky to be alive. He is learning to walk, talk, and eat all over again after an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) showed up.

“He had sustained a devastating hemorrhage in his cerebellum, the lowest portion of the brain towards the back of the skull,” said Dr. David Limbrick, chief of pediatric neurosurgery at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

Scharf collapsed in front of his mom, Sandy, who raced him to the emergency room, opting against waiting for an ambulance. Her decision likely saved his life. Blood vessels in his brain were tangled, knotted, and then ruptured. Nothing caused it. He was just born with AVM.

“It’s not something we knew about,” Sandy said. “We found out that day what it was.”

Several kids die from an AVM rupture. Jackson's life was saved at a hospital in his area near Decatur. He was then transferred to St. Louis Children’s Hospital to begin intensive therapy.

“He was in a condition where he required breathing tube to breath; not conscious,” Dr. Limbrick said.

Jackson had a series of procedures to stabilize him. It began a prolonged recovery over the last three years, which included 12 surgeries. He’s had two surgeries in the last five weeks to eliminate a reoccurrence that happened.

Jackson isn't just surviving; he is now thriving and considered a walking miracle.

He has dreams of getting back to playing competitive football, basketball, and baseball, but for now, his family is just happy to have him. Jackson also hopes to someday be a police officer so he can help people.

“To see him come from almost dying to being where he is today is amazing,” Sandy said. “We had so much faith in Dr. Limbrick and faith in the nurses and techs and everyone here that for us. It’s been ok.”

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