Mighty Blog

Keep smiling: Galaan’s advice living with thrombosis

Galaan was just 14 years old when he found out shocking news. What doctors thought was a simple sinus infection turned out to be something that would change Galaan Omar’s life forever: He was diagnosed with thrombosis, a condition in which blood clots block your veins or arteries. 

What was supposed to be a sinus infection 

At a basketball practice during the summer of 2017 was when Galaan suddenly felt dizzy and like he couldn’t stand. Galaan ended up leaving practice early and his mom took him to a clinic in St. Cloud where doctors thought he had a sinus infection. However, he says that he knew it had to be something else.  

“I remember I actually threw up when I was walking out of there. I was like OK that’s not normal.” recalled Galaan. 

The next morning was no better as his symptoms only got worse. Galaan remembers throwing up a ton and feeling like his head was going to implode on itself. His mom ended up taking him to the St. Cloud Hospital and that was when he was transferred to Children’s Minnesota for the expert care he needed.  

At Children’s Minnesota, Galaan was diagnosed with thrombosis and was told he would have to undergo surgery due to severe bleeding and swelling in his brain. 

During the three and a half weeks that Galaan was hospitalized, he recalls losing quite a bit of weight and not being able to do much. With the help of his care team, he was able to gain back his weight, muscles and mobility.  

Galaan is extremely thankful for this entire care team for making his hospital experience amazing. From surgery to recovery, he is grateful to have the team he did.  

Image by Win Koering Photography

Living with thrombosis  

For basketball-lover Galaan, getting diagnosed with thrombosis was tough because that meant that he could no longer play competitive basketball. Galaan was taking blood thinning medication that increased his risk of excessive bleeding if he was to get injured while playing basketball since the sport is considered a high-impact and injury-prone activity. 

“The first season without it [basketball] was pretty tough for me,” said Galaan.  

Although the first season without basketball was the toughest part of recovery for Galaan, he was able to find other ways around it. When he is overwhelmed or needs to clear his head, Galaan still goes out to shoot basketballs and will occasionally play with his friends.  

By senior year of high school, Galaan was able to find another way to get active and have fun: He joined his high school tennis team! 

Galaan today  

Galaan is now 19 years old and currently a sophomore at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities studying computer science. To this day, basketball is still a big part of his life.  

In his free time, Galaan will still play basketball for fun with his friends or watch games. Some of his other hobbies include making YouTube videos, listening to and making music and spending time with his family and friends.  

When asked what advice he would give to other kids going through the same thing, Galaan said, “Focus on and appreciate the things and people you love and keep smiling.”  

Mai Songsawatwong