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Triumph Over Tragedy

After a devastating incident left him fighting for his life, Brallan embarked on a remarkable recovery journey at Shriners Children’s Northern California

Brallan likes to hang out with friends and was part of his school’s indoor track and field team in his hometown of Tijuana, Mexico. One morning in 2020, Brallan went with his dad and brother to help at his family’s laundry repair business. As they were walking over, a car pulled up and, without reason, a person inside shot at them with an assault rifle. Brallan was hit three times.

Finding hope amid tragedy

Brallan’s injuries included a spinal cord injury, a punctured lung and bowel and stomach damage.

Brallan aspires to establish a foundation for children in Mexico who have endured traumatic injuries.

“It was heartbreaking,” said Brallan’s mom Luz. “At the same time, I witnessed how Brallan was fighting for his life like a warrior.”

After an extensive stay in a Tijuana hospital and then in a specialty hospital in Guadalajara, Mexico, Brallan was transferred to Shriners Children’s Northern California for treatment for his spinal cord injury in the inpatient rehabilitation unit.

The Inpatient Rehabilitation Program provides care to patients who are recovering and regaining function following an illness, injury or surgery and could benefit from three or more hours of therapy five to six days a week. Brallan remembers the staff greeting him with open arms and giving him a huge bag of toys and board games.

“Being in an environment created for children where therapy is promoted through play undoubtedly makes you forget you are in a hospital,” said Brallan.

A community that heals

Rolando Roberto, M.D.

Brallan underwent a spinal fusion operation performed by Rolando Roberto, M.D., spine surgeon and chief of orthopedics at Shriners Children’s Northern California. Spinal fusion surgery stabilizes and corrects curvature of the spine and, for scoliosis, prevents further curvature. Soon, Brallan will undergo a second operation to correct the development of scoliosis.

Brallan has a multidisciplinary care team at Shriners Children’s, from doctors and nurses to physical therapists and child life specialists. They have all been fundamental to his recovery.

“We are very grateful,” says Luz. “All the people who have helped Brallan have a special place in my heart for life.”

“I love talking to other kids who are going through a similar experience as me and playing pool and basketball. I have made good friends with patients and their parents – I even play pool with the doctors,” said Brallan.

The dream to pay it forward

Brallan has discovered new activities and interests, and he is looking forward to fulfilling his dream of becoming a professional pool player.

“He has always been a sociable and athletic child,” said Luz. “Instead of limiting his options, the injury opened up a range of new possibilities for his future.”

Brallan now dreams of creating a foundation to support children in Mexico who have experienced traumatic injuries. “I know firsthand what it feels like to be sick and completely alone,” said Brallan. “I want to bring happiness to boys and girls and inspire them like the staff here inspired me. If I can put a smile on another child’s face, my day is complete. And maybe one day I’ll even work at Shriners Children’s.”