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Bolingbrook man documents son's brain hemorrhage, recovery

Chris Wilson and his son, Miles, 8, hang out in Community Park in Bolingbrook on Friday. Bill Ackerman -
Chris Wilson and his son, Miles, 8, hang out in Community Park in Bolingbrook on Friday. Bill Ackerman -
Watch video of Chris Wilson's 'The Miracle'

BOLINGBROOK – When Chris Wilson’s young son, Miles, suffered a massive brain hemorrhage in April 2011, the Bolingbrook resident sought therapeutic refuge behind the lens of his Nikon camera.

“Photography is my release,” Chris Wilson said. “During his time at the hospital and six-week journey to recovery, standing behind the lens helped me cope with what I saw him go through. Miles is so strong – he’s a fighter; I needed to be strong for him, too.”

Two-and-a-half years later, Miles is a fully recovered Independence Elementary School student, and Chris Wilson, an IT professional, has catalogued hundred of photos and more than 50 hours of video into a photo journalism portfolio he has dubbed “The Miracle.”

Chris Wilson picked his son and two daughters up from school April 15, 2011. As the family enjoyed a snack in their Bolingbrook dining room, Miles, then a 5-year-old kindergartner, complained of a sharp pain in his eye.

“I then took Miles to the bathroom and it was then he fainted and collapsed into my arms. I just screamed and asked God for help,” he said.

Doctors informed Chris Wilson that his son had an abnormal amount of blood in his head and attached the young boy to a respirator. He was airlifted to Comer Children’s Hospital and medical staff affirmed that Miles was suffering from a congenital arteriovenous malformation – an abnormal connection between arteries and veins.

“It was tough to keep it together,” Chris Wilson said. “He was in and out of consciousness, he wasn’t breathing on his own; everything seemed touch and go for a while.”

But, after a successful brain surgery, his condition improved.

It was after the second day at the children’s hospital that Chris Wilson took out his camera.

“I kept thinking that one day I would look back on those pictures, remembering them as the last pictures of Miles’ life,” he said.

An amateur photographer who has won multiple photo contests, Chris Wilson jumped behind the lens and began documenting his son’s journey.

“It helped me deal with the gravity of the situation,” Chris Wilson said. “It was my therapy, my way of coping.”

His footage also became a useful resource for doctors and nurses.

“The doctors would come in and check on Miles very early in the morning when he was heavily sedated,” Chris Wilson said. “They wanted to check on his progress but could rarely wake him up. So, we went over the video that I had filmed from the previous day.”

A month-and-a-half later, Miles made a full recovery and Chris Wilson began compiling the hundreds of photos and hours of footage into online galleries, slideshows and photojournalism documentaries.

“I often lovingly call him the Miracle, and that’s the title of the video online,” Chris Wilson said. “But, he’s a fighter, he’s a rough and tumble kid who always perseveres. There is no quit in Miles.”

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