Dana Housley, a 15 year old high school softball player from California has died on Wednesday evening after suffering from a brain aneurysm. She was initially on life support as a result of the brain aneurysm which occurred on the softball field last Saturday, causing her to collapse. Dana was up to bat for her softball team, the California Thunder, when she notified her coach that she was feeling dizzy.
One of Dana’s teammates, Savannah Tourville, said “She walked over to coach and said, ‘I’m dizzy,’ and just collapsed in his hands. He laid her down and called the ambulance. It was crazy.”
Dana was being treated for the brain aneurysm at Kaiser Permanente in Fontana, California. Her teammates created a GoFundMe page to help raise money for Dana and her family. While Dana was on life support, her teammates said she was ‘unable to breathe on her own, and was not showing any signs of brain activity.’
The head coach of the California Thunder softball team, Angelo Michaels, said Dana was a “spectacular” player and that she “always had a smile, always gave 100 percent and was a great teammate.”
Her teammates were extremely worried about her, but stayed hopeful. According to another teammate, Brianna Santos, “We have a group convo going on with our team, where we just keep on hoping and praying that she’ll be OK, and we’ll be able to see her again.” The softball team had also come up with hashtags to use on social media to show their support as well as gain the support of others: #PrayforDana and #DanasMiracle.
Although Dana’s family and teammates had hope that she would survive, she tragically died on Wednesday evening, her family reported. The family released a statement which was posted by the California Thunder softball team which said: “Tonight our beautiful Dana chose to go with the Lord. We don't yet understand his plan for her, but she will make a perfect angel.”
A brain aneurysm occurs when there is a bulge or ballooning in the cranial artery, which is a blood vessel in the brain. The cranial artery gets weak and starts to bulge or balloon out. When a brain aneurysm causes the cranial artery to weaken, it can leak or rupture. This can cause a hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding in the brain) which can lead to severe brain damage or death. When a brain aneurysm ruptures, it can quickly become a life-threatening condition. Medical treatment is required immediately in order to prevent any serious damage or death.
Brain aneurysms are caused by a thinning of the artery walls. They can occur in both adults and children, but are more common among adults between the ages of 35 and 60. They are also more common in women than men. There are a number of risk factors that can cause thinning of the artery walls and increase a person’s risk for a brain aneurysm. Some risk factors develop over time, and some are present at birth, which is likely the case for Dana.
Risk factors that develop over time include older age, smoking, hypertension (high blood pressure), arterioscerlosis (hardening of the arteries), drug abuse (usually cocaine), head injury, excessive alcohol consumption, blood infections, and lower estrogen levels after menopause in women.
Risk factors that are present at birth include inherited connective tissue disorders that weaken blood vessels, such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome; polycystic kidney disease, an inherited disorder that results in fluid-filled sacs in the kidneys and usually increases blood pressure; abnormally narrow aorta; cerebral arteriovenous malformation, an abnormal connection between arteries and veins in the brain that interrupts the normal flow of blood between them; or a family history of brain aneurysm (usually a parent or sibling).
Brain aneurysms among children are four times as likely to present with subarachnoid hemorrhage versus without subarachnoid hemorrhage. It is likely that this is the type of hemorrhage that Dana suffered from. A subarachnoid hemorrhage is a type of hemorrhagic stroke that happens when a ruptured brain aneurysm occurs in the space between the brain and the thin tissues covering the brain. If the bleeding does not stop, blood can leak into the cerebral spinal fluid which increases pressure on the brain, causes clots, and can damage or destroy brain cells.