Medical Moment: Treatment helps child suffering from 50 daily seizures

Published: May. 18, 2022 at 3:56 PM EDT
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(WNDU) - Hydrocephalus is a condition where fluid builds in brain cavities, causing potentially damaging pressure on the brain itself.

Surgeons implant a tube to drain the excess fluid and relieve the pressure. But for some patients, health struggles don’t end there.

As many as 35 percent of children born with this, develop epilepsy, life-altering chronic seizures.

A procedure in particular saved one young boy’s life.

Israel “Izzy” De La Cruz has gone through more in his five years than most people do in a lifetime. His mom, Shukreeah, was 30 weeks pregnant when an ultrasound technician detected something wrong.

“‘Your son has hydrocephalus.’ And he’s like, ‘That’s basically water in the brain,’” Shukreeah said.

Doctors delivered Izzy via c-section. Three weeks later, surgeons implanted a shunt to drain fluid. At three months, seizures started. By 2018, he was having 50 seizures a day.

“He would just turn blue and purple. Those were probably the scariest seizures I’ve ever seen,” Shukreeah recalled.

Surgery was Izzy’s best option. Altogether, Izzy had nine brain surgeries. Lawrence Daniels, MD, performed one specific surgery where he removed a portion of Izzy’s skull, and slid an electrical grid on top of the brain to precisely measure the seizure activity.

“And if we could do that, there was an opportunity to disrupt that part of the brain and stop the seizures from spreading to the opposite side,” Dr. Daniels said.

Once doctors pinpointed the place where the seizures started, they were able to remove part of his temporal lobe to disrupt them. Shukreeah knows Izzy suffered developmental delays but hopes with physical therapy, her son will crawl and then, someday, walk and talk. Either way, she says Izzy is a gift.

“This little boy wakes up with a smile every single day, just to be grateful for life and to wake up. And I’m just like, I wanna be like you, Israel, I wanna wake up and have a big smile and just be like, thank you God, for another day.”

Doctors say Israel is still on medication to control his seizures though the number has dramatically gone down.

Shukreeah says he’s gone from having 50 seizures a day to just one.

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