Tallan Askew – Craniectomy Procedure Success Story

Game on!

Tallan Askew

How brain surgery saved this young coach and father from a paralyzing stroke

The football field is home to Tallan Askew.

He played receiver and defensive back for Sulphur Springs High School, wearing the blue and white jersey with pride. More recently, he has been coaching for his nephew’s Pee Wee team.

“I like the kids,” Tallan says. “I like making a difference and especially in young people’s lives.”

Coaching wasn’t the only great thing in Tallan’s life back in the winter of 2014. He was looking forward to his 5-month-old daughter’s first Christmas.

Then Tallan’s life as he knew it fumbled. At only 28 years old, he had a massive stroke.

A body paralyzed

Tallan was visiting a friend in Dallas that week.

“My speech started slurring,” Tallan says. “I wanted to go lie down, but I collapsed on the floor before I got to the bed.”

When he awoke, he was at Methodist Dallas Medical Center, the left side of his body completely paralyzed.
“I didn’t want to believe it,” Tallan says.

Richard Meyrat, MD, is a neurosurgeon with the Methodist Moody Brain and Spine Institute at Methodist Dallas. He explains that a clot had cut the blood supply from the right side of Tallan’s brain, in particular the part that controls motor function.

What caused that clot is a condition Tallan has had for years: nephrotic syndrome.

“People with nephrotic syndrome, which is a semicommon kidney disease, clot more easily than the general public,” says Gregg Shalan, MD, JD, neurointensivist on the medical staff at Methodist Dallas.

Surgery to save a life

In addition to the paralysis, Tallan’s brain had swelled to double its size, requiring a craniectomy procedure.

“The skull is a fixed box, and we open the box, so to speak,” Dr. Meyrat explains. “When the brain swells up, it has nowhere to go, so what we do is remove part of the skull, allowing the brain to mushroom through the opening. It has more room to expand and keeps the brain from pushing back in on itself, which would destroy the brain stem and cause death.”

After removing the skull, Dr. Meyrat closed the skin back over the opening in the head. Two months later, after the swelling had gone down, Dr. Meyrat placed an artificial bone plate back over the opening in the skull.

Throughout all of this, the Askew family was impressed with the care Tallan received.
“I don’t care if I get a cold, I think I’ll drive to Methodist Dallas,” says his mother, Shannon Askew. “Everyone was just fantastic.”

A dad and his daughter

After his procedures, Tallan underwent months of rehabilitation. Before long, he’d experienced a recovery Dr. Meyrat describes as miraculous.

“If there was any doubt in my mind that God was real, I know now that He is,” Tallan says. “My legs work again.”

Tallan still hasn’t regained all the function of his left arm, but he is back on the football field with his team, and most important, he can be there for his daughter.

“Sometimes I thought she might not get to see me or get to know who I was,” Tallan says. “Not anymore. She has her father.”

In Shannon’s mind, it seems that things are once again looking up for her son.

“I feel like this stroke put us in a valley, but we’re getting back to a mountaintop now,” she says. “It’s all through God.”

From the spring 2016 edition of Shine magazine