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USA Health physicians give young patient second chance with life-changing surgery

Kim and Matt Renihan had nearly lost hope for their 3-year-old son, Liam, who was diagnosed with epilepsy at 15 months old.

Published Mar 1st, 2019

Kim and Matt Renihan had nearly lost hope for their 3-year-old son, Liam, who was diagnosed with epilepsy at 15 months old.

Liam was experiencing up to 100 seizures a day, causing his head and upper body to fall to the floor. He had speech and other developmental delays and could not maintain eye contact. He had been on countless anti-seizure medications - up to five a day - and had a vagus nerve stimulator implanted in his chest. After almost a full year of being seizure-free, the seizures came back.

Matt Renihan swings his son, Liam, in their front yard.

The Renihans took Liam to three neurologists, who all said he was not a candidate for epilepsy surgery. Then, his mother heard that Dr. Juan Ochoa, a neurologist with USA Physicians Group and director of the SouthCEP Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, was accepting pediatric patients. Dr. Ochoa reviewed Liam's files and saw something that none of the other neurologists saw in his EEG and MRI - Liam was, in fact, a candidate for surgery.

Dr. Ochoa and Dr. George Rusyniak, a neurosurgeon with USA Health, worked collaboratively to map Liam's brain and define a focal point where the seizures were occurring. In mid-January, Liam underwent surgery to remove the parts of the brain with seizure activity.

The results have been remarkable. Just five days after surgery, the boy who once struggled to maintain eye contact was throwing a ball back and forth with Dr. Ochoa. He started babbling and showing affection again for the first time in nearly two years. His mother said he now loves to give kisses and high fives. Liam will continue speech therapy and will return to preschool soon.

FOX10 News recently interviewed the Renihan family, as well as Dr. Ochoa and Dr. Rusyniak. Watch the story here.

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