Elizabeth Szasz is 12 years old but is unable to lead the typical life of a middle schooler.
She was diagnosed with epilepsy as a baby and has tried several treatments for her life-threatening seizures. Each new treatment would work for a short time. But her seizures, which can last longer than two hours would return. Her parents say they felt hopeless.
“You just feel sad, sad that you can’t fix it, sad that you can’t help her.” said Sara Szasz.
“We went through six or seven new medications, nothing worked, the seizures were getting longer.” said Steven Szasz.
This is Elizabeth. She has severe intractable epilepsy. This photo was taken just two days after a recent procedure; she was frustrated, agitated and wanted nothing more than to go home. Her surgeon, Dr. Leonard, got her up out of bed to walk the halls of the hospital. At the end of their walk, mom snapped a photo of this incredibly powerful moment as Dr. Leonard was giving Elizabeth a pep talk and letting her know she would be home soon. 💜
The family decided to try a fairly new brain surgery at Nationwide Children’s Hospital called RNS or Responsive Neuro Stimulator. It acts like a computer on the brain that reads abnormal activity then tries to stop a seizure before it starts. It sends a shock but the patient can’t feel it. Dr. Jeffrey Leonard performed the surgery.
“We’re just increasing the amount of ammunition we can use to treat this disease where previously we would say with a child like this, ‘I’m sorry there’s no surgical options available to you,'” Leonard said.
Only two of these RNS surgeries have been done in the Midwest. Both have been performed at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. It’s early to tell if it will help Elizabeth but her family is hopeful.
“You really have to take it one day at a time, and you really have to make the most out of the good days because for us, there are not a lot of good days.” said Sara.