Doctors Disconnect Part of Patient’s Brain to Treat Rare Disease

Oct 11, 2023 | Blog

Source: USA Today

WrittenBy: Gabe Hauari

A 6-year-old girl with a rare neurological disease recently underwent a 10-hour surgery in California where half of her brain was disconnected in an effort to help cure her.

Brianna Bodley underwent a procedure called a hemispherotomy on Sept. 28 to treat a rare disease called Rasmussen’s encephalitis, according to a GoFundMe page created by her mother, Crystal Bodley.

The surgery was performed by Dr. Aaron Robison at Loma Linda University Medical Center in Loma Linda, California. Robison told ABC 7 that “just disconnecting it [the brain] is enough to stop the disease completely and essentially, potentially cure it.”

According to the GoFundMe page, Brianna was diagnosed with epilepsy in August 2022 after suffering from nighttime seizures and being hospitalized for five days.

In September 2022, she was once again admitted to the hospital, this time for eight days, and was diagnosed with Rasmussen’s encephalitis.

After several seizure medications failed to work, it was recommended that Brianna undergo the operation.

Crystal Bodley said on the GoFundMe page that the entire left side of Brianna’s body is “turned off due to disconnecting half of her brain.”

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Rasmussen’s encephalitis is a very rare, chronic inflammatory neurological disease that usually affects only one half of the brain.

It most often occurs in children under the age of 10 but can also affect adolescents and adults.

The disease is characterized by frequent and severe seizures, inflammation of the brain, mental deterioration and progressive loss of neurological functions including motor skills, speech and eventual paralysis on one side of the body, according to the NINDS.

A hemispherotomy, the surgery that the young girl went through, involves removing half of the brain’s cortex, or outer layer, and the procedure is used “predominantly in children who have seizures that do not respond to medication because of damage that involves only half the brain, as in Rasmussen’s encephalitis,” according to NINDS.

According to an Oct. 3 update by Crystal Bodley on the GoFundMe page, Brianna was out of the ICU and had been transferred to a normal hospital unit in the children’s hospital.

Brianna will then be transferred to inpatient rehab, where she will learn how to walk and use her left arm and undergo speech therapy, according to the update.

Her mother Crystal also has an Instagram page that document’s Brianna’s journey and road to recovery.