• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Procedure snips part of brain to end seizures

February 7, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Falling to the ground at any given moment without having control over their bodies is what children with atonic seizures live with everyday.

For some, removing part of a major organ seems to be the key to ending the dangerous cycle. It's helping young kids get a new start.

Eight-year-old Aliyah Walker had seizures, as many as six frightening episodes a day.

"She would just walk normally and then she would fall," said the girl's mother, Latasha McKeiver.

They were caused by an inflammatory disease, deteriorating the left side of her brain and its function.

"Over time, some of the function of the left side of her brain moved elsewhere, probably to the right side of her brain," said Philipp R. Aldana, an assistant professor of neurosurgery and pediatrics chief at the University of Florida Health Science Center Jacksonville.

When no medicine helped Aliyah, there was only one option.

"They told me they were going to have to disconnect the left side of her brain. Remove it," McKeiver said.

During her hemispherotomy, doctors removed the part of the brain triggering the seizures and cut off the entire left brain.

"We disconnected the fibers that go down to the spinal cord, and disconnected the fibers that go to the other side of the brain," Aldana said.

After surgery, there was not a single complication.

While Aliyah has months of therapy ahead to strengthen and improve coordination on her right side, she's seizure-free.

Without the procedure, doctors say Aliyah's severe seizures, weakness and even paralysis would have likely gotten worse.

They say they believe her seizures are gone for good.

In time, her right brain will take over more of her left brain function, and doctors say she'll go on to have a normal, healthy life.