On Mother’s Day 2010, my son Gavin had his first seizure. That was just before his fourth birthday. Up until that point, Gavin was a healthy young boy. At the hospital that Mother’s Day, Gavin was diagnosed with epilepsy and a brain tumor. For the next three years, Gavin suffered from multiple seizures even though he was on five medications and a special diet. He had seizures most every night and sometimes during the day. We couldn’t leave him alone and had to limit our activities because we never knew when he’d have a seizure.
We had tests done to see if brain surgery to remove his tumor and stop the seizures was an option. We spent a year having Gavin tested and he weathered multiple hospitalizations.
He was on the Ketogenic diet for a year. He could barely eat anything, but it was worth trying to help him.
One of the hardest tests was an MRI that lasted two and a half hours. Gavin had to do different things while the medical team watched the MRI results. That helped them determine if they could do the surgery without paralyzing him. Finally, we received the great news that Gavin was eligible for surgery.
On June 24, 2013, Dr. Hugh Garton and his team performed a 15-hour surgery to remove the part of Gavin’s brain that was causing the seizures. The procedure was done using special equipment called “intraoperative MRI, “ which enables the surgeons to do MRI scans during surgery.
Dr. Garton and his team were able to remove the problematic part of the tumor. Because the tumor was in an area that controls Gavin’s arms and legs, and only part of the tumor was causing the seizures, and it was essential to focus on the part affecting the seizures specifically. That is part of why the iMRI equipment they used was so important. They were able to remove precisely as much of the tumor as possible without compromising other important tissue in his brain.
He’s been seizure free since the day of the surgery. The most amazing thing is that he had surgery on a Monday, left Mott on Friday and was playing baseball within a few days. What a difference!
For the three years when Gavin was having seizures prior to his surgery, our family life became all about the seizures. Luckily, he’s our only child so we could focus on him. We were afraid to take vacations because we didn’t want to be away from his medical team and we never knew when he’d have a seizure. Now that he’s seizure free, we realize how all-consuming that time was.
Gavin will turn 9 soon and is in third grade. He loves to play baseball and soccer. He also loves Legos and Pokémon. He went to skateboard camp last summer, and we’ve even been able to finally take family vacations. We’ve been to Colorado and took a Disney Cruise last year.
We go back for an MRI every six months to check on the remaining portion. Gratefully, it’s not growing! Gavin remembers the seizures he used to have and recently asked me what the doctors did with the part of his brain they removed. He’s pretty convinced they threw it in the garbage.
Our family is tremendously grateful to Dr. Garton, Dr. Singh, Denise Potter (who helped talk me off the ledge when we were struggling with the Ketogenic diet) and the entire neuro team at Mott. We know God works through these amazing people and we are truly blessed to have them here to help all of the brave children they treat. Thank You!!!!!
Take the next steps:
- Learn more about the Comprehensive Epilepsy Program at the University of Michigan.
- Learn more about Intraoperative MRI capabilities at the University of Michigan.
Danielle Springer lives in Westland, Michigan, with her husband, Troy, and their son, Gavin.
University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is consistently ranked one of the best hospitals in the country. It was nationally ranked in all ten pediatric specialties in U.S. News Media Group’s “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals,” and among the 10 best children’s hospitals in the nation by Parents Magazine. In December 2011, the hospital opened our new 12-story, state-of-the-art facility offering cutting-edge specialty services for newborns, children and women.