Brain de-wired to cure epilepsy

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Little Maitreyo’s parents were at their wit’s end, they were too scared to let their son out of their sight, even to send him to school.

Five year old Maitreyo Dutta suffered unpredictable and violent seizures that would put him in the ICU and leave him temporarily paralysed every few weeks. But that was before his operation.

“Maitreyo was a pre-term baby and had suffered a brain haemorrhage soon after he was born. The bleeding damaged the wiring in the right part of the brain, which resulted in epilepsy after he turned two years old,” explained Dr Dinesh Nayak, chief neurologist at Fortis Malar hospital here.

“Since then, he has suffered one or two attacks each month, and unlike most other epileptic patients, his condition was life threatening,” he added.

The child’s father, Mr Samik Dutta recalled how the seizures would last for more than an hour, and the child would turn blue — his respiration would slow down.

“We had to rush him to the ICU every time he had an attack. And even after the seizures stopped, Maitreyo would not be able to move his left limbs for up to two days, it was as though he was temporarily paralysed,” said Mr Dutta, an IT professional from Kolkata.

“Every day, he had to take five different anti-epileptic pills. The high-dose drugs made him sleepy,” he said.

In January this year, Maitreyo was referred to Chennai’s Fortis Malar hospital, where doctors decided to operate on him. “In an epilepsy surgery, we de-wire the abnormal part of the brain.

The part responsible for triggering the seizures is disconnected from the rest of the brain. As the abnormal electric impulses no longer affect the other parts of the child’s brain, the seizures stop,” explained Dr Dinesh.

Through the six-and-a-half hour operation, doctors had to monitor Maitreyo’s responses to ensure that brain functions were intact.

The anaesthetist had to reduce the anaesthesia just enough for the child to be able to respond to stimulus.

Eight months after surgery, Maitreyo is seizure-free, playful and alert.and alert as his anti-epileptic medication has been reduced to only two pills a day.

His parents have relocated to Chennai, and Maithreyo has just been admitted to a school here. “It was initially difficult to find a school ready to accept a child with epilepsy; most schools are wary of such children, though there is really no need to be.

Once we explained that Maitreyo was completely fine and healthy, he was admitted to a school here,” said Dr Nayak.

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