A Walsall Dad has taken showing his support for his daughter to the next level by getting her brain shunt tattooed on his head – the second time he’s been inked in this way.
Gareth Hickenbottom-Marriot’s little girl, Briar, has a rare condition, which has meant she’s been under the care of multiple teams at Birmingham Children’s Hospital since birth.
The 10-year-old has Goldenhar syndrome, which affects children as they grow. For Briar, this has caused issues with her eating, drinking and vision and has also contributed towards hydrocephalus – a build-up of fluid on the brain.
To help relieve some of the pressure caused by the build-up of fluid, Briar had a brain shunt fitted when she was around 18 months old.
The procedure involved her having a thin tube surgically implanted inside her brain to help drain away excess fluid. While her brain shunt is not visible to other people, it has become part of her.
Gareth, who previously had a ‘matching’ cochlear implant tattoo on his head in solidarity with his daughter, who was born deaf, in August 2015, got his new ink last month.
The striking piece of art is now proudly displayed on the other side of the 42-year-old’s head in another show of fatherly support.
“Briar didn’t quite know what to make of the tattoo when I first showed her, because obviously her shunt is hidden inside her head. I’ve seen lots of people getting tattoos in tribute to their child’s condition, but I don’t know of anyone who has done this.
“I just think it’s important that Briar knows that she’s not alone, and hopefully this will help to do that.”
Mr Guirish Solanki, Consultant Neurosurgeon at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, said:
“I’ve known Briar for a number of years and her parents, Leanne and Gareth, go above and beyond in supporting their daughter – like so many of our families we care for and support.
“Although Briar’s condition is complex mum and dad are fully knowledgeable and this most recent act of solidarity just illustrates their love and care for her. It’s not only a wonderful caring gesture but it helps Briar to understand what her brain shunt looks like and the important role it plays in helping her.”