An Eastern Carolina family is opening up about a tragedy that claimed the life of a loved one , in hopes that it might help other families.
They say it all happened because of a birth defect that can go undiagnosed in most patients.
Many times the symptoms mask themselves as average everyday ailments. And for Cindi Rudd of Chocowinity in Beaufort County, her son's diagnosis wasn't discovered until it was too late.
Doctors didn't know 18-year-old C.J. Rudd had a rare abnormality in his brain, called Arnold- Chiari Malformation, until after he had been in a car accident. An MRI showed the defect. His mother says C.J. never made it out of surgery. He died on May 26, 2009.
The defect happens in the base of the brain, where brain tissue extends in the spinal cord. This results in compression of the brain stem and spinal cord. Symptoms may never exist in some, or come in the form of headaches, sudden coughing, sneezing, neck pain, nausea and poor coordination. Doctors told C.J.'s mom the defect doesn't start showing itself until the late teens or early twenties.
According to the Mayo Clinic, 1 in 2,000 people could have a form of Chairi Malformation, but those who exhibit symptoms are much less.
Cindi says she wanted people to know about C.J. so they can be aware of this rare birth defect and get checked out if they have unexplained symptoms. An MRI is the only way to detect it.