Nearly 13 weeks ago, on July 13, seven-year-old Justin Perales suddenly collapsed at his home and had to be rushed to the hospital. The doctors diagnosed him with AVM (arteriovenous malformation), a tangle of blood vessels in the brain which had burst. The Eagles are all too familiar with this condition, as it is what caused former defensive tackle Mike Patterson to suffer a seizure at Training Camp in 2011. Justin was in a coma for five weeks and just got out of the hospital less than a month ago.
- Related: View photos of this special visit.
“(Justin) didn’t have any symptoms and he just passed out and (the blood vessels) ruptured,” said Justin’s father, Eddie. “When the blood hits the brain, that's what causes the coma – the doctors put you in a coma and stuff. But if you catch it early, you’re able to do a surgery, like Mike Patterson. But his (Justin), it just ruptured all of a sudden and everything started going a little bit downhill at that point.”
On Friday, Justin and Eddie visited the NovaCare Complex and were given a tour of the facility by Justin’s favorite player, quarterback
“It's been amazing,” Eddie said. “(Justin’s) a huge Michael Vick fan and a huge Eagles fan. We were in the hospital for 10 weeks, he was in a coma for maybe half of those weeks. When I took him to the hospital, he was basically not breathing at the time that I drove him. But I was able to catch footage, like I recorded everything through social media because he’s not going to remember that time, and when the Eagles announced Michael Vick was going to start he was cheering in my bed.
“And I have that footage and it’s on YouTube and stuff, so that’s something where he remembers only a few people, but at that time he remembered that so that was huge. He thought we were coming down here for a youth camp, but then I guess he realized it was a little bit more than a regular youth camp. It’s pretty good, and I’m pretty sure he’s extremely happy, so we’re never going to forget this.”
Vick, who saw what happened to Patterson first hand, was touched by Justin’s condition and recovery and was happy to put a smile on his face.
“It’s special,” Vick said. “I wish we could do that more often, but (Justin’s) the lucky one. I’m pretty sure this is something that he’ll never forget. It’ll take a while for it to soak in right now, but I think in the long run he’s going to really appreciate it. I love kids. I’ll always think if one of my own was going through what some kids are going through in this world, things they can’t control, how I’d want someone to be there for them and try to put a smile on their face. He’s smiling right now and I was able to do that. It makes it all worth it.”
After showing Justin around, Vick went to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to spend time – including pose for photographs, sign autographs and answer questions – with other children who have myriad medical ailments.
Meeting and sharing quality time with Vick had Justin excited and elated beyond words, and it is a moment he will never forget as he bravely tackles a long rehabilitation process. Luckily, he is expected to make a full recovery within a year, which is nothing short of miraculous.
“It’s crazy where we’re at now because he was paralyzed a couple weeks ago and now he's (doing so much better),” Eddie said.
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