Patient undergoing brain surgery at Cincinnati Children's gives 4,000 toys to fellow patients

Spreading the holiday spirit, in a big way

CINCINNATI -- A 14-year-old girl from Virginia undergoing an extensive brain surgery at Cincinnati Children's Hospital is on a mission to spread some holiday cheer.

Savannah Day suffers from hemiplegic migraines, which often cause the right side of her body to go numb. Soon after the discovery of her condition, doctors found Chiari malformations on her brain, which are structural defects in the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls balance.

She is scheduled for a procedure Thursday morning at Children's.

When Savannah and her two sisters, Sierra and Chloe, learned that she would be having surgery around Christmas, they decided to do something special for the other patients at Children's.

"When people heard my story, they didn't know what to do. So, I gave them something to do," said Day.

For those who wanted to help her, she simply asked for them to donate a toy. Their original goal was to collect 500 toys, but they under-estimated the spirit of giving this year.

The girls gathered more than 4,000 toys thanks to people across the country who wanted to lend a helping hand.

Savannah and her family loaded the toys on a tractor-trailer and brought them to Children's for all the patients who have to spend their Christmas in the hospital.

"I hope they know someone cares about them," said Day, hoping that the other patients, just like her, will be surprised this Christmas.

Day will undergo her 15th surgery at 7:45 a.m. The operation will release fluid surrounding her brain.

"The bottom part of the brain has 'tonsils' and that piece of the brain has grown down to the spinal canal and is basically cutting off the spinal fluid from going in and out of the brain, which is causing a tremendous amount of spinal fluid to just sit on the brain," said Michelle Day, Savannah's mother. 

"The surgery will drain that fluid and remove part of that bottom part of the brain," said Michelle of Thursday's operation.

The procedure is expected to last anywhere between seven and 24 hours.

But Savannah says she isn't phased.

"I don't think it really matters to me," she said of the surgery, "because I will be with my family."

Savannah has support, not only from family, but from people across the country. Wrigley Field in Chicago displayed a sign cheering on Savannah and people across the country sent in photos of themselves holding up 'Support for Savannah" signs.

You have ours at WCPO, too, Savannah!

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Savannah is in stable condition following her surgery Thursday. Her family says she is a "star patient."

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