24 brain surgeries later, NC teen graduates with his class

Nick one day hopes to get into the medical field so he can help others who have been in his shoes.


ASHEBORO, N.C. — The cap and gown are hung up and ready to go.

“I’m just so overjoyed and just so excited I can’t even explain to you how we feel,” said Lora Griffin.

She’s a proud parent. Her son Nicholas is graduating from Uwharrie Charter Academy Friday night. He’s one of the top in his class.

“School was one of those things I could do well,” Nick explained.

But it’s that smart brain of his that put some hurdles in his path. Nick has been dealing with hydrocephalus all his life. It’s a condition that causes fluid to build up in the brain. The only way to treat it is brain surgery.

To date, Nick has had 24 surgeries, all before graduating high school.

“I was considered the sick kid. Even up until last year people were like are you new here?” he said.

Over the years, he’s spent a lot of time in the hospital, but he never took a break from his school work. And his hard work goes beyond academics; he also plays lacrosse and has earned the Eagle Scout designation.

“That means a lot to me because not many people get that award,” Nick explained. “I could’ve easily given up because when I started, I kept on having surgeries and the condition kept on getting in the way and when I finally got the Eagle Scout that kind of gave it a validation of why I did it.”

There were times when Nick wasn’t given much hope. But he’s proven people–and even some of his doctors–wrong.

“I’m very proud of him,” Lora said. “He’s one of the strongest people I know.”

There’s a chance Nick could need another surgery, but for now he’s healthy with graduation and college on his mind.

“We just knew that his life was more than being the sick kid,” Lora said. “That he was more than that.”

Nick plans to go to UNC-Chapel Hill in the fall to study chemistry. One day he hopes to get into the medical field, so he can help others who have been in his shoes.


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