Drake White Reveals Brain Condition After Near-Collapse Onstage
The 35-year-old country singer tells People that he has been battling a rare brain condition called an arteriovenous malformation (AVM), which is a tangle of abnormal and poorly formed blood vessels. According to the Mayo Clinic, "The arteries are responsible for taking oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the brain. Veins carry the oxygen-depleted blood back to the lungs and heart. A brain AVM disrupts this vital process." It affects less than one percent of the population.
White was just minutes into his performance at Elmwood Park in Roanoke, Va., on Friday night (Aug. 16) when he began to feel light-headed, lost all energy and could no longer stand up. A band member rushed to assist him, and he was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital to be checked out. The singer tells People that he first began to experience symptoms in January of 2019, when he got a headache that would not go away.
“By 2PM I was in bed seeing spots in my left eye, and that’s when my left side started going numb," he details. "I tried to sleep it off but woke up with the same intense headache.”
He and his wife, Alex, headed for the emergency room, where he underwent an MRI and an angiogram.
“The next thing I know, there is a guy walking in with the word ‘neurologist’ on his nameplate. He told me, ‘You have a mass in the back of your head. It’s treatable, but it’s going to take a while,’" White shares. "It was at that moment Alex and I said to each other that whatever it is, we would battle through it. Our faith went into overdrive.”
Doctors say it's likely White has had the condition since birth. He's since undergone a series of embolization procedures to cut off blood flow to the poorly formed vessels, balancing his treatments with his performing schedule. He underwent the most recent treatment four days before his near stage collapse.
White and his wife, Alex, are using their faith to get through the struggle that's facing them. White says doctors are confident he'll continue to respond to treatment, adding that they believe they have knocked out 75% of the mass so far. He and his wife are focusing on the positive.
“My attitude is better. From the moment I found out, I refused to see it as a problem. Rather, I chose to let it inspire me and help others. I have to think I’ve been going through all of this for a reason,” White states. “Everyone is going through something. You have to treat every person like it could be their last day. Not to be all sunshine and rainbows, but all of this made me appreciate all that I have and all that is to come.”
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