Allie Barone is only six years old, but for the last couple years she'd been suffering from severe, adult-sized headaches.
Her parents took her to a specialist, where an MRI revealed that their daughter had a Type I Chiari malformation -- a disorder caused when a patient's skull is too small or too oddly shaped for the brain its meant to protect.
"Her brain stem was compressed and squished through the opening of the base of her skull, where the skull meets the spinal cord; it's supposed to be wide open," Stephanie Barone, Allie's mom, told Fox News. "When the spinal fluid couldn't get into her brain, that's why she had the headaches."
And while the condition can typically be treated with a simple surgery, Allie's ordeal was far from over.
The family traveled to the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. for an operation that took 3-4 hours and, while there were a few hiccups, it proceeded mostly as planned.
After her initial operation, reports the New York Daily News, her parents were alarmed to find Allie's spinal fluid had begun leaking out of her incision. So she went back into surgery.
This cycle of surgery -- discover leaking spinal fluid and head back to surgery -- happened a total of three times, reports Fox News, before doctors discovered an oddly shaped vertebrae had been weakening the spinal cord's protective membrane, allowing fluid to leak out.
To her parent's relief, Allie's fourth bout of surgery proved successful. A Facebook page dedicated to Allie's drawings reports that the girl's energy has soared, that she's just started school, and that she's "having a blast."
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