Finnegan’s Rainbow

UH Teamwork, Technology and Innovation Brighten the Future for a Young Family

Kevin and Nicole Born-Crow had been parents for only two weeks before they began to worry that something serious might be wrong with their newborn son, Finnegan. Several times a day, he would freeze and stare blankly, unmoving for minutes at a time, or twitch and cry uncontrollably, eyes jerking wildly.

At University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, they learned the sobering news: Tiny Finnegan had epilepsy. Then, over the coming months, bad news became worse news: Epilepsy drugs weren’t working.

“It was heart-wrenching,” Mrs. Born-Crow recalls. “He would try to sit up or crawl and he would fall over.”

An interdisciplinary team of neurologists and epilepsy experts collaborated in his care, including Ingrid Tuxhorn, MD, Division Chief, Pediatric Epilepsy and Asim Shahid, MD, pediatric epileptologist, from UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital; and Jonathan Miller, MD, Director of Functional & Restorative Neurosurgery Center at UH Neurological Institute and George R. and Constance P. Lincoln Master Clinician. The team scanned Finnegan’s brain with the world’s most advanced imaging technology. They traced the seizures to abnormally developed nerves in a large section of tissue. The condition threatened to stunt Finnegan’s development, learning and memory, drastically and permanently. Doctors had to act quickly.

The Scan Revealed Hope

Finnegan looked perfect for a new surgical cure called temporoparitoocipital disconnection. It offered lower risk of complications and faster recovery than the traditional surgical removal of large amounts of brain tissue.

There Was a Catch

Finnegan’s surgeons would be pioneering a novel technique that had apparently never been performed in the United States. The Born-Crows were scared. “But the doctors’ confidence in the outcome was contagious,” Mrs. Born-Crow recalls.

Finnegan’s epilepsy team used the brain-scanning technology to determine exactly where to place cuts in brain fibers. Then, on March 1, 2012, the 10-month-old toddler underwent a 10-hour operation led by Dr. Miller.

After surgery, “Finnegan woke up normal, and he never had another seizure,” his mother reports.

Today, Finnegan is a toddler-sized bundle of energy, running around the house, playing his pint-sized guitar and banging on his drums. And his parents are banging the drum for the exceptional care at UH that made it possible.

“We’re just so joyful to see how healthy and active Finnegan is now. We’ll be grateful to University Hospitals forever,” says Mrs. Born-Crowe.