“She’s always worried about the other person – even though she’s going through everything that she has, she’s worried about you,” said Albert Moreno about his daughter, Sariah.
Sariah is a positive, compassionate 13-year-old who suffered from seizures. And while most 13-year-olds were making plans for winter break, Sariah spent her fall 2018 preparing for a hemispherectomy at Valley Children’s, a procedure in which surgeons disconnected the right side of her brain to cure her of the seizures she had been having her whole life as a result of Sturge-Weber syndrome.
Sturge-Weber syndrome is a condition that affects blood vessels and can cause underdevelopment of the brain. Her parents estimate she has been having seizures since she was 5 months old.
“She had sometimes up to two a day, sometimes five, six a week,” said Albert. “She couldn’t really recover from the first one, then the next one would hit.”
Struggling to find the best solution, Sariah and her family came to Valley Children’s. The family met with Dr. Cesar Santos, Medical Director of Neurosciences and Neurology. After monitoring her and looking at her EEGs, Dr. Santos explained there were options that could provide Sariah a life she could thrive in.
“I said it doesn’t really need to be like this,” explained Dr. Santos. “The only thing that the right brain right now is doing, is causing the seizure and when it causes the seizure, it inhibits the left brain which [functions normally].”
Since birth, Sariah’s brain had not developed normally. Since the right side of her brain wasn’t functioning properly, Sariah’s brain started reorganizing itself, ultimately beginning to transfer certain functions to other areas of the brain. This ability, known as neuroplasticity, led to Sariah’s left side of her brain taking over normal functions, leaving the right side of her brain purposeless and merely causing seizures and interrupting the left side of the brain.
On November 2, 2018, Sariah underwent a six-hour procedure where Dr. Patricia Clerkin and Dr. Julia Sharma disconnected the two sides of the brain. This allowed the left side of the brain to completely take over.
“They did something that I couldn’t do,” explained an emotional Barbi Moreno. “At my weakest time when she was having a seizure, I couldn’t fix her and I couldn’t help her and I couldn’t kiss that boo-boos away. And they kissed it away.”
Thanks to the neuroscience team at Valley Children’s, Sariah is now living seizure free.