By Rebecca Chitolie




THIS MAN has had his skull removed three times and is now waiting on a new skull after contracting an infection which meant his brain needed to be washed with hours left to live.


Content creator Brandon Alexander (23) from Manhattan, USA, had a brain injury after he left his house on his skateboard on October 11th, 2019 and still to this day doesn’t know what happened to him, but he woke up three days later in hospital and has undergone a series of five brain surgeries and ten surgeries in total.


Brandon created a documentary about this event, but then on September 20th 2023 he went to have another facial reconstruction surgery that was medically necessary as his previous brain surgeries left him with the muscle around one of his eyes sagging and causing his vision to be impeded.


Once Brandon had this medical facial reconstruction surgery he continued to experience problems with fluid in his head becoming excessive, as a drain that was supposed to remove fluid was blocked, which was not caught by doctors.


Over a period of eight days Brandon became increasingly worse, until the morning of his girlfriend’s birthday, Julia (22) when Brandon’s condition deteriorated significantly when he tried to sleep but felt his “heart beat inside his head” and had a high temperature 13 days after the surgery.


Brandon was rushed to the NYU hospital by ambulance, where they ran a CT scan and found he had contracted a post surgical site infection which would mean he needed his skull removed once again in a matter of hours to save him from death.


He then had his brain washed by doctors and was treated with intravenous antibiotics via a dual lumen PICC line in his right arm to clear the post surgical site infection over a period of six to ten weeks, which then caused his heart to beat in reverse. Doctors explained it was due to the anaesthesia he had taken for having two surgeries in two days.

“I had this drain, a JP drain, that was in my head that should’ve been taken out before I left the hospital but they said they would leave it in since it was the only thing keeping me in the hospital after my “face lift” surgery, said Brandon.


“On September 28th my eyes were bruised, my face was swollen at that point. At that point me and my partner Julia realised that the fluid in my brain had tripled in a few days since the 25th, it went from 25-50ml per 12 hours to 130-150 per 12 hours, which is a main sign of infection which should’ve been caught and stopped.


“Then on October 2nd I went with my girlfriend Julia for her birthday dinner the night before her birthday, and it’s a restaurant that I love normally but all I could eat was a bowl of mac and cheese. I couldn’t pick my head up the entire time, and messaged my doctor.


“I went home and took some ibuprofen to sleep it off, but then around 2.30am I woke up on October 3rd to go to the bathroom, and I tried to go back to sleep but my head was spinning.


“It felt like my brain was doing backflips and I could hear my heartbeat in my head. I kept trying to get back to sleep but I couldn’t, so I rolled over to Julia and said I think we need to take my temperature because I thought I had a fever.


She reached over to feel my head and immediately jumped up to grab a thermometer because she said “you were hot to the touch” and I had a temperature of 102.6°F which was 13 days post-op of brain surgery which was not good.

Brandon then called his mother to let her know what was happening, while his condition worsened rapidly.


“I called my mom and she told me to go to the hospital. The problem was I was in Queens and my hospital with my surgeons was in NYU and time was of the essence, but I decided to go to NYU, which was ultimately a decision that saved my lifeW, said Brandon.


“I got to NYU around 5.45am via ambulance and I wasn’t feeling well, the headache had subsided but I still knew something wasn’t right.


“They set me up in a room, and brought me an ice cup of water and it was around 6am at this point.


“And I’m laying in the hospital bed with the ice cup of water in my right hand and I’m talking to Julia, and then without realising I drop the cup of ice water, my arm goes limp and the ice water is all over me.


“It was Julia who pointed it out to me, and said you just dropped that cup of ice water, are you ok.

“I was like did I, and then I looked around and saw my arm was limp and I thought I was having a stroke.


“Julia was standing at the foot of my bed and I screamed for her to get a doctor or anyone because I was having a stroke. Once I started yelling then all the doctors started to rush in.


“At first they didn’t take it as serious at first, as if I was exaggerating, and I was like no I’m not doing this, I’m watching my arm flailing around and then they realised and called the stroke code.


Brandon was then immediately rushed to have multiple tests to find out what was happening.


“This meant that I was placed at the top of the CT scan list, and this means that they will pull anyone out of the CT scan in order to get you in if you’re having a stroke as you usually have minutes”, said Brandon.


“As we were waiting for them to pull the other patient out of the CT scanner, I’m on a video call with my mum and I tried to talk but I started experiencing speech aphasia, which means the connection between your brain and your mouth isn’t working.

“My girlfriend and mom were panicking and the stroke doctor standing next to me was shocked as they were watching me rapidly decline in a matter of minutes.


“So they rushed me into the CT scan before the other person was out and essentially swapped us.


“Then they put a headband on me to measure the electrical waves in my brain and then I had x-rays which found that my subgaleal shunt, which drains fluid was no longer working and was clogged.


“They did more digging and found an infection underneath my artificial skull implant that was rapidly progressing and a physician’s assistant came over and broke the news that I would need surgery at 2pm of that day, and at the time it was 10am.


“My mom, who was at a work event she had set up for her entire company, when it was her time to shine, got a call from Julia and me telling her that I would need the skull removed again.


“Julia said she just watched my life fall apart, because what having a skull removed means is having to start over again, everything has to start over.


“My mom said don’t worry buddy I will be there before you go in, so she tried to get on a flight.”


Brandon then received shocking news that he would be having surgery in less than an hour.

“We were sitting there and then my neurosurgeon was called, and then about ten minutes later, the PA came back and said actually we’re going to do surgery at 11.45am, at this point it is 11am”, said Brandon.


“So they quickly got me the scrubs, I went to the bathroom to change and then filmed a TikTok about having to have my artificial skull implant removed for the third time.


“I felt like why, why are we doing this now, so then I called my mum again, and she said ok buddy I will be there by the time you wake up.


“I go in and I know all of the surgeons there, at this point it’s my tenth surgery in total, and fifth brain surgery.


“They literally washed my brain, they removed the implant and then put a solution on my brain to kill the infection, because they could see the infection as they pulled it out. It was a staph infection that had made its way into my blood and into my heart and surrounding my brain.


“Then as I came out of anaesthesia after the surgery my mum was there and my doctor walked in and said well we saved him.


“My mum said from what, and my doctor said had I gone back to sleep when I tried to, I would’ve never woken up. It was my girlfriend’s birthday, but if I had gone back to sleep I wouldn’t have woken up.


“I’ve cheated death three times at this point.”


After the surgery to remove his skull, Brandon had 89 staples in his head, and then a few days later, they had to put a ventriculoperitoneal shunt on the opposite side of my head, to deal with the hydrocephalus that had formed from the infection, which required another 12 staples in the right side of his head.


“So from then they were monitoring me and put me on antibiotics, and then found that I had a staph infection in my brain and a beta b vegetation infection in my heart which affected one of the valves”, said Brandon.


“I was then put to receive six to ten weeks of antibiotics with two antibiotics, one being amoxicillin which is a penicillin derivative for general staph infections, and the other one is called meropenem, which is made for antibiotic resistant bugs, like the one in my heart.


“This drug is very damaging to the body, it’s up there with chemo treatments, as it destroys your intestines and gut health, which leaves you with really bad stomach aches.


“The only thing of concern was then that cerebral spinal fluid in my head was not draining, and the doctors had determined that I had late onset hydrocephalus, which meant that my brain was producing too much cerebrospinal fluid.


“So they needed to place a little catheter in my brain, so they drilled a new hole into my skull which runs to my abdomen.


“I now don’t have a skull but they did replace my skull with a titanium mesh, so it can act as a skull until I have my next brain surgery in April 2024.


“I then went home and had 89 staples in my head after this.”

Brandon then experienced his heart beating in reverse due to the anaesthesia.


“Two weeks passed and Julia, my home health aid, and another nurse helped administer my antibiotics”, said Brandon.


“Then I went in to get my staples removed and saw my neurosurgeon, and I had showed him that I’d been running the ECG function on my apple watch and showed him these episodes I was having in my heart, which meant my heart beat would race for five to six seconds, and would jump from 80 to 120.


“It felt like my heart was beating in reverse, and it was.


“He said that it looks like what is called Ventricular tachycardia (V TACH) and PVC, which means your heart is beating in reverse, and so you’re going to need to go to the ER right now.


“They did an ECG on me and it looked normal, because it was only a certain way that I knew it would happen, and I explained it to my nurse and then I said it’s happening and as I said that, it happened and the machine showed it, and then it goes back to normal.


“She ran to the other doctors, who were all watching it on the screen and they were all watching the screen and were shocked.

“The doctor finally found that what is happening is you’re stressed, as you’ve had two surgeries in a span of two days totalling a span of eight hours, and one of the main causes of VTACH and PVC’s are anaesthesia.”


Now, Brandon is waiting on his new skull and is continuing to make content on YouTube to remind people that everyone has a reason for being here.


“On November 21st my round of antibiotics finished and now I have to wait six months to a year

for a new skull, as they want to ensure the infection is gone completely before I can get a new skull and ear implant”, said Brandon.


“Now I’ve got two surgeries left if all goes to plan, one to fix my head and face in the process, as well as a new implant.


“I’m a maker at heart, and throughout this process I’ve taught myself how to 3D model and have made a 3D model of my skull, and I actually have a deeper understanding of 3D spaces due to my brain injury and right now I’m trying to grow my YouTube channel about renovations and making things that don’t exist.


“It was only when my friend @adrianvvlogs told me to make videos I want to watch that I started having the confidence to make them. My brand is now, you’re here for a reason and I truly believe that.”