Brain docs gave me back my Emma

A young epilepsy sufferer has made a dramatic recovery after rare surgery to remove part of her brain.

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  • Emma Bookless has made a dramatic recovery after surgery
    Emma Bookless has made a dramatic recovery after surgery
  • Emma Bookless has made a dramatic recovery after surgery

Seven-year-old Emma Bookless suffered daily seizures, loss of appetite, frustration and her school work was suffering because of a severe form of the condition.

But specialist doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, carried out a life-changing operation on her brain - only about 20 of which take place every year.

Her mother Rebecca says the surgery has marked a dramatic turnaround in Emma's life.

She said: "I have my little girl back.

"Emma is so much calmer and content - everyone has commented on the massive change. She is incredible."

Emma, of Bishopbriggs, who is a pupil at Balmuildy Primary, was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was 3½ years old.

Rebecca, a central support manager with Optical Express in Glasgow, said: "We were having breakfast one morning and she starting having a seizure.

"I called an ambulance, which took us to Yorkhill Hospital. While she was there she had another seizure, so they were able to diagnose her."

Emma had never previously displayed any symptoms of epilepsy so this came as a huge shock to Rebecca and her family.

She added: "It was life-changing news.

"I had a normal pregnancy and Emma was a really happy baby who showed no signs of having the condition.

"But the doctors at Yorkhill were very positive and said they would give us medication to control the seizures and that Emma could grow out of it.

"Sadly, that didn't happen."

Emma continued to have seizures, most of which happened during the night, leaving her exhausted and aggressive during the day. She also lost her appetite, which meant she lost weight.

Rebecca added: "It was a really chaotic few years for us.

"Emma was not responding to the medication so it was changed a number of times.

"But it failed to stop the seizures, just changed them."

Emma's seizures went from full blown fits to periods of staring into space. But each took its toll on her little body. Rebecca said: "Emma could feel them coming on and she would get anxious.

"She would say, 'Mummy I am going to have a dizzy'.

"She was falling behind in school and didn't have any friends to play with because she was irritable and exhausted during the day.

"It was heartbreaking."

Rebecca was given some hope when Emma was referred to Great Ormond Street Hospital.

An MRI scan found a subtle lesion, so doctors then placed electrodes on to Emma's brain. She was then offered surgery to carry out a left anterior temporal lobectomy - removing a section of brain next to the temple.

Rebecca said: "The neurosurgeon explained the surgery to me and that there was a risk of life.

"But he also said this serious risk applied to Emma without the surgery because of her seizures.

"Signing on the dotted line to consent to the surgery was the hardest thing I have ever done, but I knew I had to give Emma the best change at a normal life."

Emma underwent two operations at Great Ormond Street, the first lasting more than five hours and the second lasting six.

Just days after the second operation, which took place the week before Christmas, Emma was alert and trying to run around and play.

Rebecca added: "I knew instantly it had been a success. Emma's temperament had changed and she was hungry again.

"We would sneak down to the hospital restaurant with her in her pyjamas to get chips."

Emma has gone from strength to strength and is now thriving in school.

Rebecca added: "She still gets tired but Emma was delighted to go back to school and tell everyone about her time at Great Ormond Street.

"She now eats everything and anything - a particular favourite is mum's cheese pasta."

Before Emma's surgery had taken place, Rebecca and her best friend Laura Buchanan decided to organise a fundraising party to gather money for the Koala Ward at Great Ormond Street, which treats children with neurological conditions.

They hosted it in Bishopbriggs Community Church and managed to gather £2284 for the hospital.

Rebecca added: "It was perfect timing. We had a great time.

"I was overwhelmed by the generosity displayed by people, including those who donated raffle prizes.

"And it was great to give something back to Great Ormond Street as they have given us so much."

Emma remains under the care of a medical team at Yorkhill Hospital For Sick Children and they will begin to wean her off medication around May.

The hope is she will then be formally discharged in December.

Rebecca added: "Emma is now a happy and affectionate wee girl who loves playing with her friends and getting lots of cuddles.

"Everything is moving in the right direction."

linzi.watson@ eveningtimes.co.uk

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