STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — While doctors weren’t able to save her 21-year-old daughter, Brittany, when she suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm almost a year ago, Patricia McCarthy-Hillers has made it her mission to raise awareness of the condition and funding for research.
“I want to continue her dream in life — to help others and that’s what we are trying to do,” the mother said.
The Dongan Hills family will be hosting a 5K run/one-mile walk in Brittany McCarthy’s memory at Wolfe’s Pond Park this Saturday beginning at 9 a.m.
“My mission is to help others with the Bee Foundation — so far we raised over $25,000 for the run/walk this Saturday,” McCarthy-Hillers said.
“We want to help to prevent this silent killer from taking additional lives.”
A SUDDEN HEADACHE
On Oct. 3, 2021, the mother got a call that Brittany was being rushed to Richmond University Medical Center in West Brighton from her boyfriend’s house after complaining about a severe headache that became overwhelming.
“When I got the phone call, I thought that I would be going to pick up my daughter,” she said. “On the phone it was described to me that it was not too serious. When I got there everyone was acting odd and I was like what was going on?”
McCarthy-Hillers was told that her daughter had gone into cardiac arrest and was on life support after suffering a ruptured brain aneurysm.
“It was so severe that nothing can be done, there wasn’t even an operation that they could do, she was brain dead,” McCarthy-Hillers said.
With her family looking for a second opinion, Brittany was transferred to Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, but doctors there confirmed there was nothing they could do.
BRITTANY’S GOAL TO HELP OTHERS
When Brittany got her learner’s permit when she was 16, she put down that she wanted to be an organ donor.
“I was like, ‘Are you sure?’ And she was like, ‘Yes, I’m going to be in the medical field and I believe in helping others and it saves so many lives,’ ” McCarthy-Hillers said.
“We honored her wishes to be an organ-donor hero.”
Brittany was able to save three lives, her mom said. One woman was able to regain her eyesight.
The 21-year-old also had a passion for science and research since she was younger. The Dongan Hills native went to PS 52 in her community and then Egbert Intermediate (I.S. 2) School in Midland Beach, where she fell in love with
science and later joined one of its science academies.
At New Dorp High School, Brittany would join the health science academy. In addition, Brittany volunteered her time at Staten Island University Hospital. Brittany was an all-star cheerleader for over seven years and was also a waitress at Canlon’s restaurant in Oakwood for over five years.
Brittany’s mother said that her daughter’s dream was to become a physician’s assistant. She graduated from the College of Staten Island’s Verrazzano School honors program.
THE BEE FOUNDATION/AWARENESS
The family got involved with the Bee Foundation following a suggestion from Dr. Christopher P. Kellner of Mount Sinai Hospital.
Kellner mentioned the Bee Foundation. Ashley then set up a donation page on Facebook and Instagram, and in the three days before Brittany’s wake — Ashley raised $25,000 in her sister’s honor.
The Bee Foundation heard about the family’s story and used the funding raised to establish the Brittany McCarthy TBF Brain Aneurysm Preventative Research Grant.
This year, Dr. Stacey Quintero Wolfe, professor and residency program director of Neurological Surgery and Radiology at Wake University School of Medicine, was awarded the $25,000 research grant in honor of Brittany.
Also, the family hopes to bring awareness to the early signs people get before an aneurysm and share more information on the condition, as some individuals are not familiar with brain aneurysms and how deadly they can be.
“We’re telling a story that we thought could never happen to us. I just can’t do nothing — so I want to live and honor my daughter and try to help others,” McCarthy-Hillers added.