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4-yo’s life improves after life-saving surgery for seizures

<i>KOCO</i><br/>Dawna Groover (right) discusses the rare genetic disease that causes multiple benign brain tumors and severe seizures in her 4-year-old daughter
Dawna Groover (right) discusses the rare genetic disease that causes multiple benign brain tumors and severe seizures in her 4-year-old daughter

By Jessica Schambach

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    OKLAHOMA CITY (KOCO) — A 4-year-old Oklahoma girl is the first in the state to have a life-saving surgery.

Her family is extra thankful for Thanksgiving this year.

Aria Groover has a rare genetic disease called tuberous sclerosis. It causes multiple benign brain tumors and severe seizures – three to five a day in Aria’s case.

“It was heartbreaking. She would be having moments of, she might be giggling and laughing and playing with her and she’d have a seizure and she wouldn’t want to do anything go lie down and sleep,” said Aria’s grandmother, Dawna.

Now, the girl’s family says, she has about one seizure a day, after undergoing surgery two months ago.

“You can just see a difference in her. She’s more aware and more alert. She’s doing things she wasn’t doing before. It’s amazing to watch, actually,” said Aria’s mother, Megan.

Aria is the first child in Oklahoma to have Estereo EEG surgery. Doctors say her seizures have decreased since then in numbers and severity.

“Her quality of life has dramatically improved. Even though she’s still having some seizures, the seizures she’s having are not the detrimental kind that she was having before,” said Dr. Cherie Herren, a pediatric neurologist and epilepsy director for OU Children’s Health.

OU Health gave KOCO 5 a video from inside the operating room and talked to one of the doctors.

“We make some small holes in different parts of the brain and put in an electrode near all the abnormal or suspicious parts of the brain,” said Dr. Virendra Desai, director of surgical epilepsy and functional programs for OU Children’s Health. “In a minimally invasive manner, we can access different parts of the brain. So they’re 2 to 3-millimeter incisions, just 1 or 2-millimeter holes in the skull and put these electrodes in.”

The team records from the surface of the brain itself to get very specific information about where the seizures originate. Doctors say more than 90% of the time they can figure out which part of the brain is seizing.

“The seizures she was having previously have completely stopped, but she has another seizure type that has emerged, so it’s possible with medications that we can get that other seizure type under control,” Herren said.

Aria’s family says they’re already seeing progress and are hopeful she’ll keep improving.

“She’s starting to clap more and she dances now when she hears music and stuff. She will watch the TV – the TV grasps her attention more,” Dawna said.

Said Megan: “There’s just a lot – just the total way she interacts with you is different.”

Aria also has been nonverbal and only started walking about a year ago.

“She’s becoming more independent on her walking though even since the surgery — going outside — she never used to like going outside. Now she does and wanders around. She’s more curious out there,” Dawna said.

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