HERSHEY, Pa. (WHTM) — A pediatric neurosurgeon at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital was surprised by a patient and his family after they secretly organized a donation that will go towards important research about a complex illness.

Dr. Elias Rizk helped 12-year-old Coltin Kenning battle against hydrocephalus, which occurs when fluid builds up inside cavities deep inside the brain. Coltin and his mom Stephanie hosted a raffle to raise money and gave Dr. Rizk a check for $23,550. The raffle’s initial goal was $10,000.

Hydrocephalus, which can be fatal, can be remedied with a properly placed brain shunt, a system of tubes that carries excess fluid from the brain to other parts of the body.

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Shunts are typically made out of silicone, so when Coltin developed a silicone allergy, Rizk worked with a manufacturer to develop a custom-coated device that Coltin can tolerate with help from medication.

“There’s nothing we could possibly do to thank him enough for what he’s done,” Said Stephanie Kenning. “The shunts used today to treat hydrocephalus are the same ones that have been used forever. We hope our gift will start Dr. Rizk down the path of developing something more permanent that works for so many other children like Coltin.”

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Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022 marks the one-year anniversary since Coltin’s last hydrocephalus surgery.

“Dr. Rizk has given Coltin a life that he’s never had before,” Stephanie Kenning said.