When Griffin was only 14 months old, he had an episode of massive tonic-clonic seizures. Formerly known as a grand mal seizure, a tonic-clonic seizure causes a person to lose consciousness and fall to the ground, where the body stiffens and begins jerking motions. After a minute or two, those movements begin to cease and consciousness slowly returns.
His grandmother, Pat, who was baby-sitting at the time, rushed Griffin to the Emergency department at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. The pediatric neurosciences specialists at Children’s immediately put Griffin through a series of tests, including a CAT scan and extensive blood work. They explained to Bonnie, Griffin’s mother, that her son had epilepsy and cautioned her that there was a 50 percent chance of a repeated serious seizure. The next morning, Griffin again experienced violent seizures, where his oxygen levels dropped dangerously low.
“I thought my child was going to die before my eyes,” remembered Bonnie. Yet, Griffin was soon stabilized and transferred to the Intensive Care Unit, where he remained for careful observation for the next 24 hours. After additional testing, Griffin’s care was eventually moved to the Children’s Epilepsy Center. To control seizures, the Center treats epilepsy with medication, diet or surgery, or a combination of these modalities. The Center also utilizes video EEG monitoring to assist with diagnosis and treatment planning.
With more than 900 admissions for epilepsy annually, Children’s understands that neurological disorders affect children differently than adults. As one of the leading providers of neurology and neurosurgery care in the country, the Children’s neurosciences program features an extensive team of neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuroradiologists and neuropsychologists. Because caring for children with neurological disorders requires specialized treatment, each member of the Children’s pediatric neurosurgical team specializes in a particular area, such as epilepsy, brain tumors, head trauma and spinal disorders. This approach, rare among pediatric programs, ensures that a broad continuum of care is available to our vulnerable patients.
Today, Griffin visits Children’s every six months for blood work and is working on reducing his medication—all the while keeping a boyish smile on his face. Although still anxious over Griffin’s well-being, Bonnie has had the selfless clarity to realize a simple need at Children’s. At Bonnie’s suggestion, her mother, Pat, made a donation (through the Patricia Bowman Terwilliger Family Foundation) initially for electronics to entertain patients in the neurosciences EEG rooms.
“There are so many ways to help,” said Pat. “Sometimes you wonder why bad things happen. Because of Griffin’s illness, we know why—we wouldn’t have known about the need at Children’s.”
An additional generous gift from the family’s foundation is funding the Epilepsy Monitoring unit at Children’s and clinical research in neurosciences. “We realized the importance of the patients and families not having to wait for monitoring,” said Bonnie. “We’re just so blessed to be able to help Children’s and count ourselves very lucky to have such a wonderful place."