Half Her Brain But A Full Life
Born perfectly healthy, Katie Verdecchia’s parents had no clue as to why she, one day, started having uncontrollable seizures.
She started showing signs of a problem when she was only one month old. Her mother and father, Maryalicia and Brian Verdecchia were horrified when little Katie seized up to 50 times a day. In the condition she was in, doctors told Mr. and Mrs.Verdecchia that their daughter was likely to live to the age of 8.
When Katie’s seizures worsened, and all else failed, doctors told her parents that there might be another, very drastic solution - hemispherectomy: the removal of half a brain. Children born with Katie’s condition, Aicardi, usually have both hemispheres of their brains affected, meaning that operation would be practically impossible. Katy could be called “lucky” in the irony of the situation, that her left side of the brain, the side that controls language, was healthy, perfectly healthy.
At Mattel Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles, the surgery went on for 8 hours, with surgeons removing the right side of the little girl’s brain. The operation was a success, she had no more seizures after that. However, her parents needed to wait in order to see how their beautiful, 2-year-old daughter would cope with only half a brain.
Almost immediately after the surgery, Katie began moving her left arm which amazed doctors and her parents, as the left half of the body is controlled by the right side of the brain – the side which had been taken out. This meant, that Katie was recovering much faster than they had expected, with her left hemisphere taking control of the right hemisphere’s responsibility.
Two months later, Katie sits with her father on a studio couch, giving an interview, and intuitively playing with her father’s iPad.
This is not the first case in which a hemispherectomy has been performed. Actually, every year, around 200 such procedures are performed in the entire world. Only a few years before, another little girl named Cameron Mott, who suffered from similar seizures as Katie, was taken into the operating room where an entire hemisphere of her brain was removed, calming her seizures but leaving her parents to ponder the possibility of their daughter losing much more than just a part of her brain.
Cameron recovered amazingly, being introduced to physical therapy many times a week, many hours a day, she was able to regain use of the paralyzed side of her body.
Only three at the time, Cameron, now aged 9, is a an example to all those doubting either the ability of the human body to adapt. Both she and Katie are examples of the will to live.11