This is a blog about my daughter Gabrielle Faith O’Melia. She was born October 13th, 2006 via cesarean. She seemed perfect in every way until at 6 months of age she had her first complex partial seizure. She was diagnosed with Cortical Dysplasia. This is a developmental malformation that is associated with seizures, learning disabilities, and mental retardation. The dysplasia appeared to be confined to her right frontal lobe and she underwent a right frontal lobectomy at Duke in August of 2007. She had intense seizures following the resection and then they miraculously stopped for 4 1/2 months. During this time Gabby made amazing developmental progress. She learned to crawl, stand, and walk.
The seizures returned in Feb. of 2008 and by April of 2008 they were once again taking their toll on poor Gabby. May of 2008 we headed to NYU for a second opinion. Gabrielle was admitted for extensive testing (PET scan, MEG, Video EEG) by our neurologist Dr. Orrin Devinsky all of which suggested the seizures were still coming from the right hemisphere. We decided at this point to proceed with a 3-stage surgery done by Dr. Howard Weiner. The first stage would involve subdural grid and electrode placement. Video EEG would then record data for one week to determine exactly where the seizures were originating.
The data after one week showed two primary focuses: the motor/sensory cortex in the posterior frontal and anterior parietal lobe along with a focus in the anterior temporal lobe. We decided to proceed conservatively for the second stage and try to save all eloquent cortex. The anterior temporal lobe was removed along with the remaining frontal lobe including all supplementary cortex. We hoped this resection would disrupt the neural network enough to stop the seizures. The grids and depth probes were then replaced to allow monitoring to continue for another week.
Following the second stage, the EEG showed continued spiking over the motor/sensory cortex . We began reducing all anticonvulsants to see how things responded. On day #6 following the second stage we began seeing seizures again. The doctors recommended hemispherectomy as the best hope for seizure freedom. Gabrielle underwent the third stage of surgery, a hemispherectomy of the right hemisphere, on July 9th, 2008.
Following surgery, Gabrielle made weekly progress in her physical capabilities. She became more interactive, more capable of communicating, and her appetite was restored. Gabrielle was seizure-free for 7 months following this surgery and beginning in Feb. of 2009 we began to see an occasional seizure. They were controlled well with medication until July of 2009 when she began having numerous daily seizures.
We returned to NYU for an anatomical hemispherectomy in Sept of 2009. Dr. Weiner removed 3 small areas of tissue that remained in the right hemisphere to insure that all connections had been severed.