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The Human Thread: Jessica's Story

They thought about what mattered most to their daughter...

They moved their family back to Liverpool and focused on keeping Jess's daily life as normal as possible — filled with school, dance classes, and birthday parties.


Jessica Grant is the daughter of Chris and Emily Grant from Liverpool, England. In 2012, Chris and Emily moved themselves and their two young children, Jessica (4) and William (5), to Boston so that Chris, a physician, could complete a fellowship.

When they moved to the US, Jessica was just like any other healthy four-year-old — and remained so for the first nine months of their stay in Boston. But one day in April, while having fun at a local playground, things took an unexpected turn. She dropped from the monkey bars, experiencing severe head pain which quickly turned into seizures.

Several hours later, at Boston Children's Hospital, while Jessica lay in a coma, her parents lives were changed forever as they learned that she had an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) in her brain stem. Because the AVM was located in an extremely sensitive area of her brain, surgery was not an option and there was no other course of treatment or cure. Fortunately, the bleed that happened that day occurred in an open space and not in the brain itself — and so Jessica survived and recovered. But there is no guarantee that the same will be true the next time there is a bleed.

As they learned to cope with the diagnosis, Chris and Emily decided that they would not let it change Jessica's life the way it had changed theirs. They thought about what mattered most to their daughter, and that was not living in a medical "bubble." So they moved their family back to Liverpool and focused on keeping Jess’s daily life as normal as possible — filled with school, dance classes, and birthday parties.

Today, doctors on two continents support this mission for Jessica, staying connected to ensure that everyone is prepared should a crisis occur. They share information about Jessica and her condition, to ensure that she is receiving the best care possible, when it is appropriate and necessary.

A devoted faculty at Jessica’s school has created unique protocols so that she can participate in all the usual activities. They have invested in special cell phones that travel with Jessica throughout school and outings. They have created a colored badge system in the event that Jessica bumps her head on the playground. And they have learned to monitor her for any signs that something could be wrong.

Fellow parents and friends from the Grant's community have adapted to Jessica’s unique needs so that she can attend birthday parties (without her parents in tow), attend dance classes, and perform on stage — her greatest love. 

Together, this caring community has made it possible for Jessica to greet each day not as a patient, but as a happy, gregarious, fun-loving little girl. #TheHumanThread