BAF Changemaker: Gia Patel

Gia Patel and her dog Ellie from Orange County, California

Gia Patel suffered a brain aneurysm rupture at the age of 14. Now, at 15 years old, Gia has made it her mission to spread brain aneurysm awareness and advocate for increased research funding from the federal government.  Along with a friend, Gia recently used her personal experience to produce a documentary on brain aneurysms with a grant from the Dragon Kim Foundation, which funds worthwhile community projects in California’s Orange County.  The documentary Beyond a Headache may be viewed below.

BAF: Tell us a little about your connection with brain aneurysms.

GP: When I was 14 years old, I experienced the worst headache of my life. After being sent home from the hospital with aspirin and told to monitor my symptoms for 72 hours, my father, who is a doctor himself, took me back to the hospital and demanded I have an MRI which revealed I was suffering from a ruptured brain aneurysm. After a coiling procedure at UCLA, I was flown to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital, where I had a clipping surgery. 


BAF: When did you first learn about the BAF?

Gia and her mother, Rupal in Washington, D.C.

GP: I first learned about the Brain Aneurysm Foundation when I was doing research online about brain aneurysms during my recovery.  I  found the BAF’s website to be very helpful and then learned on Instagram about advocacy day on Capitol Hill.  My mother and I joined the BAF for the first time in Washington D.C. as we lobbied for Ellie’s Law which would provide brain aneurysm specific funding for research.

BAF: Why is it important for you to be an advocate for the BAF community?

GP: It’s important to be an advocate for brain aneurysms, as they are a condition that affects such a large part of our population, yet very few people know about them. I was misdiagnosed twice after I came to the hospital with the worst headache of my life, so more education and awareness is needed to help address this issue.

Audience at the viewing of Beyond a Headache