Son of Eagles president talks about risky surgery

May 3, 2012 3:07:10 PM PDT
The Eagles, by nature, are a very tight-lipped group. But, on Thursday, team president Joe Banner and his family spoke candidly about something very personal for the first time.

"I have the gift of my life back, and plan to make the most of every single minute," said Banner's son, Jason. He spoke at the Daisy Day fundraiser for Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. It's an even that dates back to 1953.

There mere fact that Jason Banner was able to tell his story is a miracle. The 17-year-old had his first seizure seven years ago and was diagnosed with epilepsy.

"When I started having seizures, at one point, it was every day. At one point I had well over 900 seizures," Jason said.

"Every person who has kids, or even nieces and nephews that you love, it's always on your mind that something really hard could happen to your health," Joe Banner said. "If you haven't lived it you can't really imagine it."

It was determined that Jason's only hope for a normal life was a radical brain surgery to remove the affected area. Unfortunately, that surgery came with tremendous risk.

"You do worry about language function," said Dr. Phillip B. Storm, a neurosurgeon at Children's Hospital. "We could probably stop the seizures, but at what cost?"

"It's a little scary but you know at the same time that there's a chance that if the worst thing that comes out of no seizures anymore is not talking, you're okay with that," Jason said.

And so, almost 17 months ago, Jason underwent the two part surgery. Neither he, nor his father, will forget the moment he woke up.

"I just yelled 'Dad?' and he woke up and jumped!" said Jason. "I've never seen him jump like that!"

"I just started crying. I was trying to hold it together for him, but I was really an emotional mess," said Joe Banner.

Jason hasn't had a seizure since. On Thursday, joined by Jeffrey Lurie, Andy Reid and a huge contingent of the Eagles family at the Daisy Day Luncheon, he helped raise more than $1.3 million for the CHOP Department of Neurosurgery.

"I feel like I can do anything. Nothing really frightens me anymore," said Jason. "If you weren't scared for brain surgery, you shouldn't be scared for many other things!"