JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Even though he has only a half a brain, 8-year-old Kellan Todd isn't letting that slow him down. He can still play a mean game of Uno with his parents Joni and Michael Todd of Gautier.
"Six! Try to beat that, Dad!" he said with a smile while slamming his card on the table.
And he has a pretty good handle on Sonic the Hedgehog, but two years ago, it was a different story.
"He couldn't sit up on his own," Joni said. "He couldn't hold anything and grasp anything on his left side, and eventually wasn't even talking as much, as well."
Kellan was a normal kid just starting kindergarten at Vancleave Lower Elementary, but he became debilitated with a disorder called Rasmussen Encephalitis. The disease created a brain inflammation so strong that Kellan has chronic seizures hundreds of times a day.
His first was on March 17, 2016.
"It's been a complete up and down," Joni said. "I think in the beginning we were so distraught. We didn't know what to do. We spent months trying to get it diagnosed."
After long consultations with physicians in Jackson and Cleveland, the Todds realized the only way to stop the seizures was with radical surgery.
"They disconnect the two hemispheres of the brain," Joni said. "Then, what they did was removed 50 percent of the brain that had Rasmussen disease in it."
The right side of Kellan's brain is no longer functioning.
"It's crazy to say that I'm going to allow somebody to remove my son's brain," she said. "But, he needed to have a quality of life, and, ultimately, in the very end, it was an easy decision."
"Doing research helped out a lot. Because we knew what was coming up next. We knew what we had to focus on," Michael added.
But soon, the two parents saw a dramatic change.
"I think it was a couple of days after surgery, he was able to pick up his leg," Joni said. "So, that was something that was, you know, kind of like our ah-ha moment that we did the right thing, and he was going to be able to recover."
True to form, there was only one thing that bothered Kellan about the experience.
"I was only scared of the shots," he said.
Kellan is back at school full time, officially in second grade. Right now, he's in a special education program with the goal to be in the mainstream class.
Joni explains how they're able to deal with everything.
"Always focusing on the next step is what we think is our best way to cope with it," the mother said.
Kellan and his parents will be going to Walt Disney World, thanks to Make-A-Wish.
There will be a send-off party at 1 p.m. this Saturday at Cypress Lanes in D'Iberville.