A 5-year-old Brenham boy whom family members say loves to dance, laugh and watch Woody Woodpecker cartoons is recovering in a Houston hospital after he was attacked by two dogs on Jan. 24.
According to Mason Von Swain’s grandparents, Charles and Chenella McDaniel, the boy had been with his father that day and spending time at a paternal family member’s house just outside of Brenham city limits.
Kelton Swain, Mason’s father, called 911 after the attack by the pit bull terriers, and the boy was taken via helicopter to Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston. Charles McDaniel says he was told the boy was barely conscious during the flight, but Mason’s dad clung to the boy.
“[Swain] was saying, ‘Don’t leave me, baby,’ and Mason said, ‘I won’t, Daddy,’ ” Charles McDaniel said.
The boy received two blood transfusions in one day and suffered serious facial injuries, including losing an ear. Mason has undergone multiple surgeries since the incident, including a 15-hour procedure for skin and muscle grafting from his thigh to his face that took place Monday.
“They went for his neck, but I’m not sure ...” Charles McDaniel said through tears. “But honestly, Jesus was there. To be attacked by two pit bulls ... it wasn’t Mason’s time to go.”
Mason can’t speak, as his breathing requires partial ventilation, nor can he see because of his injuries, which his grandmother said is a source of frustration.
However, he can move his head, and Mason squeezes his loved ones’ hands to communicate. Mason’s parents remain at a Ronald McDonald House inside the hospital.
According to Charles McDaniel, Mason’s mother, Casey, had to quit her job as a bartender at Chili’s in Brenham to stay with the boy and has since lost private health insurance.
The family said Medicaid won’t cover certain procedures for Mason; the attachment of a new ear is considered a cosmetic surgery. That operation alone is costing $25,000 out of pocket, the family said. Doctors have also told the family that Mason will need operations for many more years to come, Charles McDaniel added. The Brenham community has stepped forward to help the family, as more than $18,000 has been donated toward a GoFundMe campaign for Mason, which Charles said is being overseen by Mason’s maternal aunt and a family friend.
According to Mason’s grandparents, the boy is intelligent and perceptive.
“Mason is one of those grown-up people just trapped in a kid’s body,” Chenella McDaniel said. “He talks just like his grandpa.”
He has a near obsession with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and loves football — especially the Denver Broncos, which is his grandpa’s favorite team. Charles McDaniel noted that Mason’s middle name, “Von,” is a tribute to Broncos linebacker and former Texas A&M player Von Miller. Whenever the Broncos are on the TV, Mason will grab his orange jersey and glue himself to the screen.
As Mason continues his recovery, his family is concerned he won’t want to interact with his own pet, a cream-colored Labrador retriever. His mother worries he won’t be able to start kindergarten as scheduled in the fall. Doctors continue to monitor his skin graft, and Mason is suffering a blood infection, though Charles McDaniel said the doctors don’t believe it will impede the healing process.
There were several pit bulls at the home where Mason was mauled, and two were euthanized, Charles McDaniel said. The other dogs were relocated. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office confirms the attack is under investigation.
Anyone wishing to make a donation to Mason’s GoFundMe account may visit http://bit.ly/Masonswain.