A report from the Centers For Disease Control says in 2015, an estimated 470,000 children suffered from epilepsy in the United States.
It’s a debilitating disorder, that’s caused by different factors, such as: stroke or a traumatic brain injury.
In Northwest Arkansas, a four-year old girl is living with her own daily struggle of severe seizures.
It’s a cool, November morning in Lowell, Arkansas and seven year old, Maddox Hurbult is braving the elements, to make paper boats. At $1 a piece, business is kind of slow. But you can’t put a price on these boats of love.
Maddox says he’s making these boats, “for Memay. So I could make her feel better and go on a trip. And if we get enough money, we can go to Boston.”
“Memay” is his baby sister, Millie. In her four years of life, she’s been through more than you can imagine. Kristen Hurlbut is Millie’s mother and she says, “She’s a fighter. She’s got more grit than anyone I’ve ever met.”
Kristen is a fighter in her own right. She says when Millie was born in 2012, there were complications.
“She was born with a rare kidney disease, and she was in the NICU for two and a half weeks when she was first-born. Her numbers were fatal in the beginning and she has one functioning kidney and one that doesn’t work, but has proven to be the little engine that could.” says Kristen.
Millie’s condition improved over the next few years. . . until another setback.
Kristen says, “She was around someone who had a cold, sinus infection or ear infection and she couldn’t fight it off and it was just a straight shot to the brain and she developed meningitis. She was hospitalized for three months and a day.”
During those 91 days, Millie developed brain trauma due to seizures. Today, she needs 24/7 care, along various medication, several doses a day, to help treat her symptoms.
“She has. . . on a good day, 4 to 5 , but on a rough day, she has 20 to 40 plus seizures,” says Kristen.
This put Kristen at a breaking point. After seeking advice from doctors, they pointed her to Boston Children’s Hospital’s Epilepsy Center.
Dr. Joseph Madsen is the director of epilepsy surgery.
Madsen says, “If you can stop the seizures, but yet preserve the function, that’s what were looking to do.”
Madsen says cases like these aren’t rare, but there is an unconventional surgery that can alleviate or relieve seizures altogether — a hemispherectomy.
“What we do is disconnect the bad hemisphere. The brain tissue actually stays in, and it is isolated from the other side. And that can stop the seizures.”
And he says the procedure can yield life-changing results.
Dr. Madsen says “They can usually walk, so the motor control of the leg on the weak side, may not be perfectly normal. Nevertheless, they can walk and usually, their language recovers well too.”
Kristen Hurlbut, Millie’s mother, says this is great news for Millie.
“More than likely, we would get a lot more of Millie back, than if we don’t do the surgery,” say Kristen.
And for Maddox, getting back his best friend is what matters the most.
Kristen says, “It is hard to watch your kids hurt, but she’s here, and she is thriving, and she has the greatest brother in the whole wide world, 24/7, encouraging her. I look at his heart, and I want to be like him.”
If you’re interested in buying one of Maddox’s boats for Millie, just click HERE.