Friday, March 23, 2007

Medication can help to control seizures...for a while...

SPENDING your eighth birthday in hospital is no way to have fun, unless it's bringing you one step closer to brain surgery that you desperately need.

Jessica Banik, 8, was diagnosed with epilepsy four years ago.

Since then medication called Keppra has stopped her seizures and Jessica has led the life of a normal little girl.

But doctors at the Royal Children's Hospital warned mum Vanessa and dad Anthony that Jessica would outgrow the medication and her seizures would return.

"We had a three-year holiday where Keppra worked and then Jess was just about to start grade 2 and it came back," Anthony said.

This time, Jessica's seizures were more severe, and she started to have up to 100 a day, increasing at times when she felt tired or anxious.

During a seizure Jessica's pupils dilate, the left side of her face twitches, her muscles tense up and her breathing becomes erratic.

She also becomes very frightened and cries for her mum and dad. "She told me once, 'I'm over it, Mum'," Vanessa said.

Pediatric neurologist Associate Prof Andrew Kornberg said that the seizures occurred as a result of Jessica's brain cells not migrating to the right places during her development.

He said the part of her brain causing the seizures could be removed, but the operation to do so would be an extremely delicate one.

"The abnormal area is just centimetres away from the area responsible for language," Prof Kornberg said.

"We've done these sorts of complex operations many a time, but first we have to map out where all the areas are."

Jessica was brought into the hospital on her eighth birthday to have a nuclear medicine scan.
Dye was injected into her bloodstream, to guide doctors to the exact part of her brain that needs to be removed. The final step is surgery, scheduled for April 4.

Anthony and Vanessa said they were hoping the surgery would free their daughter of epilepsy once and for all.

"We just hope we can look back on this one day and say, 'Wow, we got through it'," Anthony said.
The Royal Children's Hospital's Good Friday Appeal raises money to help treat thousands of sick children.


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