Kyu San Juan was born in Green Bay as a “perfectly healthy baby,” according to his family’s Facebook page. He was quick-witted, curious, and energetic – an early talker with a lot to say.
But shortly after his fourth birthday, he fell uncharacteristically silent. After a terrifying night of gritted teeth, unresponsiveness, and seizures, his family rushed him to the hospital.
Doctors at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin determined Kyu had been born with an abnormal tangle of blood vessels in his brain. He’d just suffered a hematoma in the area that controls language – the home of his outgoing, chatty nature. Removing it might mean he would wake up a different person. He might not be able to talk anymore.
The surgery ended up going well. The tangled blood vessels were removed, and remarkably, Kyu woke up after the procedure and said almost immediately, “I need to pee.” It looked like his young, elastic brain was on a quick road to recovery.
But a couple of weeks ago, life threw Kyu and his family another curveball. At his one-year post-op checkup, an angiogram revealed that the tangle of vessels had grown back in his brain.
“How do we go through this again?” his family’s Facebook post reads. “We thought we [had] beaten the odds because the surgery was successful, Kyu’s yearlong recovery was exceptional, and his drive to thrive was phenomenal!”
On Wednesday, 5-year-old Kyu was facing the terrifying prospect of another surgery. It was midnight the night before. His grandparents had flown in all the way from Philedelphia to be with him. He and his family were sitting around, wide awake, when Kyu turned to his grandfather, Txhiaj Sawm Muas, and suggested they “go dancing.”
“Now?” he asked.
“Yeah, it’ll be fun.”
He agreed and changed into some appropriate streetwear. Kyu, for his part, stayed in his bright red pajama set. But he was surprised when Kyu’s mother, Rasami, drove them to a Festival Foods instead of a club.
“Do you need to buy something?” his grandfather asked, according to a Facebook post by Rasami.
“No, Grandpa,” Kyu answered. “We dance here in the grocery store.”
“Here? People are going to think we’re crazy!”
Kyu helpfully pointed out that it was after midnight, and they were unlikely to bump into anyone at this hour, let alone weird them out for doing a little dancing. According to Kyu’s mother’s Facebook post, he added: “Grandpa, use your imagination. You can dance anywhere.”
This video is the result of that conversation.
It’s since been viewed hundreds of thousands of times, and liked and shared by hundreds of people, each rooting for Kyu as he headed into surgery. To everyone’s immense relief, Rasami later posted that the procedure went well – better than the doctors expected. He was discharged from the hospital Friday evening, and reportedly “danced his way out the hospital door.”
This isn’t the end of the story. Kyu’s still going to need routine medical care during and after his recovery. His family set up a donation page on Facebook asking for $5,000 to help cover medical expenses, and in just 17 days, a little over 220 people have raised nearly $11,000. If you’d like to donate, you can find that page here.