Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Epileptic Student Showing Improvement after Surgery Medical College Doctors Removed Section of Boy's Brain

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Epileptic Student Showing Improvement after Surgery Medical College Doctors Removed Section of Boy's Brain

Article excerpt

AUGUSTA -- Greg West and his younger brother, Mack, dart around a table, giggling as they chase each other, seemingly without a care in the world.

There is no sign of the scar on Greg's head where surgeons at the Medical College of Georgia removed a piece of his brain two years ago in hopes of easing his epilepsy.

Greg, 12, of Camden, S.C., still isn't seizure-free, but there are signs of progress. Before the surgery in November 1998, he had seizures as often as 120 times a day. Now they are much less frequent, and he's back in school.

"Seeing him, the way he's come out, is just amazing," said Patty Shirley, a teaching assistant at his school, Midway Elementary in Camden. "I don't think I've ever heard Greg say, 'I can't.' He will try and try and try."

When Shirley worked with him three years ago, she said Greg would have two or three seizures a day at school. But since this school year started in August, he has had only one, Shirley told The Augusta Chronicle, which has documented Greg's ordeal since his surgery.

Greg's parents, Dennis and Lynne West, accept the challenges that come with raising a child with epilepsy.

Greg was 3 when he suffered his first seizure while eating in front of the television. He was 5 when he had a violent grand mal seizure the day his brother Mack was born. Soon, the seizures were coming every day.

The Wests tried one medication after another. But the seizures kept coming, and the powerful pills left Greg groggy and caused him to regress.

At age 7, his IQ was 80; only a few years later it had dropped to 46. Instead of being in a normal fourth-grade classroom, Greg needed special instruction in a smaller class.

Then the Wests came across the Medical College of Georgia Web site and found pediatric neurologist Yong Park, who evaluated Greg and advised the family that Greg would be a good candidate for epilepsy surgery. Doctors removed part of the right frontal lobe of Greg's brain, hoping to remove the tissue that sparks the seizures.

In addition to the surgery, Greg had a vagus nerve stimulator implanted in his chest. The stimulator is a kind of pacemaker that regularly sends an electrical charge into his brain. …

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