As Vida Dziduch’s parents watched nurses wheel their 14-month-old daughter into successive surgeries to remove half of her brain, they feared she wouldn’t be the little girl they knew afterwards.
But – to their joy – she became so much more.
Vida had been plagued by up to 100 crippling seizures since birth – caused by a brain malformation called hemimegalencephaly – so her mum, Louisa Bannah, and dad, Che Dziduch, made the terrifying decision to have radical surgery in the hope it would cure her.
Her dad explained to news.com.au: "She drops back to the level of a six- or seven-month old after every big cluster [of seizures]."
The couple entrusted their 17-month-old to a team of surgeons at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital, lead by neurosurgeon Dr Wirginia Maixner and neurologist Simon Harvey.
“I was expecting less of a kid afterwards,” Louisa confessed. “You take away half their brain, am I going to get this half-existence? But instead, she’s more.”
The first signs of hope came as Vida was taken to intensive care after the first surgery, which removed 60 percent of the right side of her brain, and her left foot began to move slightly.
"That's remarkable," Dr Maixner told them.
Vida’s seizures continued after the initial surgery, so four days later doctors operated again removed her remaining abnormal brain tissue.
The second operation was so successful that Vida and her parents have now returned home to south-eastern Queensland. It’s still not known how the operation will affect her development as she grows older, but Vida is now 17-months old and already communicating and learning to bear weight on her legs.
“We go to the pool, we go for walks and instead of carrying medication everywhere, I can just carry snacks,” says her grateful mum. “She has the opportunity to do anything she wants now in life. As a parent, that’s all you want.”