Family seeks help with child#039;s medical expenses

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 8, 2005

Ian Blake Oswald appears to be a normal 19-month old, but sadly he suffers from two rare brain tumors called hypothalamic hamartoma.

With grim reality, the prognosis is not good.

On Thursday, his father, Tony Oswald, talked about his son's condition and the heartbreak he and Ian's mother feels about the situation.

The tumors occur in only one out of 500,000 births each year.

The bad part is that the tumors cross the optic nerve and that makes it extremely hard for the doctors to remove.

Oswald said for the most part, his son is like any other child that age, but he has been unable to develop his speech and is constantly wracked by seizures.

"The tumors cause Ian to have 100 seizures a day; keeping his brain so busy he can’t learn to speak," his father said.

&uot;They normally occur and he'll simply stand still and his body will go rigid or he'll shake.

Then it's over."

He said so far, doctors have not been able to remove the tumors due to their location and he hopes a trip to Phoenix, Ariz. He said this is another part of their life they are fighting for, something they've been doing since Ian's was born.

"He had colic when he was born and it never went away," Oswald said.

"He was an irritable newborn and would cry constantly.

He would just go rigid and his eyes would roll back in his head."

Oswald said they had several tests run on his son but nothing could be found.

Then in June, they did a MRI and discovered the tumors.

He said the results took their light out of the world.

"It was devastating to hear them say it," he said.

"You don't know really what to think. He had had so many tests run and everything had been a mystery and then you have an answer and the doctors aren't sure how to help him."

He said seeing his son look normal, and knowing different really hurts.

"Ian will be fine and then he'll grab something and his eyes will get real big and then all the sudden he's ok again," he said.

"Two nights ago he had a seizure that lasted about two hours, so he really doesn't get full nights of sleep.

Other than that, for a child his age, he is like a normal child. He can't really speak.

He doesn't know any different."

Oswald, a native of Greenville and a 1984 graduate of Greenville High School, said he and his former wife, Dyan Grant, are trying to cope with all their son faces.

"They're telling us right now they're not sure what they can do," he said.

"They've never had a case like him.

The area of the hypothalamus and tumors are about the same color.

They don't know where the tumors end and the hypothalamus begin."

On Jan. 18, Ian and Grant will travel to Arizona where they hope another MRI will give doctors a better idea of their next step.

With that knowledge, Oswald and Grant are preparing for their son's life that will likely be filled with extreme temper tantrums, blindness and becoming totally deaf.

However, if the surgery is possible, he will most likely start talking after the surgery and live a rather normal life.

Now, the medical bills are piling up and with the trip to Arizona, funds are running low.

On Monday, a family friend set up a fund at Sterling Bank in Prattville. Autauga County Probate Judge Al Booth is the fund administrator.

The family started a Web site at to accept donations.

Also, you can mail donations to Ian Oswald Fund,

Sterling Bank, P.O. Box 230849, Prattville, AL 36066.

The family will use the funds for lodging while Ian is being treated in Arizona.

Grant spends most of her time caring for her son while Oswald teaches at Capitol Heights Junior High School in Montgomery.