Making Matches

Match SticksIf you are searching for a post about the history or art of making match sticks, or solutions to match stick puzzles, you may want to read a different article because those topics are not addressed in this post. The focus of this post is a brain surgeon’s unknowing role as matchmaker. According to Jordan England-Nelson, who wrote the article titled “Brain Surgeon Unknowingly Plays Matchmaker” for the Orange County Register, there are instances where brain surgery results in a happier story than removal of all traces of cancerous growth. We know, from the 100+ posts in this blog, there are many people who benefited from their journey beyond adversity, but England-Nelson shared another example in his article.

The Orange County Register article tells us that when Promhigh school sophomore “Colby Baron’s head started to hurt during 3rd period AP biology, he didn’t know that he’d had a stroke. Or that within the next 24 hours he would have a six-inch scar across his left temple. He also didn’t know the whole ordeal would get him a date to the winter formal.” Cassie Vaglienty, a student at the same school, underwent brain surgery the year before Colby. When she learned about Colby’s situation she met with Colby when he returned to school.

England-Nelson informs us “A year and [a] half before Colby’s trip to the [emergency room], Cassie had suffered a stroke that left half her body partially paralyzed. After surgery and rigorous physical therapy, Cassie made a full recovery. But her experience left her particularly empathetic to what Colby was going through.” Colby and Cassie soon “discovered that they had the same surgeon” and the two have been close since they met.

“Dr. Michael Muhonen, director of Neurosurgery at the CHOC Neuroscience Institute, said ‘he was pleasantly surprised when he heard the news about [Colby and Cassie]. They’re both wonderful kids and they both survived life-threatening conditions,’ he said.”


  1. What do you like most about the story of Colby and Cassie?
  2. What could you share about your recovery to help other people during their recovery?

Thanks to Jordan England-Nelson, Orange County Register, Dr. Michael Muhonen, Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC), Colby Baron, Cassie Vaglienty, and all the other people who contributed to the text and pictures I used in this post.


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