MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA/Tampa Hoy) – Four years after their daughter was diagnosed with a severe case of epilepsy, a Puerto Rican family brought her to Tampa Bay, with the hope to save her life. The story of little Zahra and her family hasn’t been easy.
This 10-year-old Puerto Rican girl was diagnosed with a variant of infantile epilepsy that is incurable and it has been part of her life since she was just 6 years old.
Saraí Vázquez, Zahra´s mother spoke to News Channel 8 about the little girl. “She has a syndrome called Lennox-Gastaut. That syndrome is epilepsy that has no cure. The medicines don’t work in these children.”
Her parents did everything on the island, going to doctor after doctor, and treatment after treatment.
“In Puerto Rico, we have limited hospitals with services for cases like my daughter,” Saraí said.
That’s why they came to Tampa using their last financial resources, hoping to get their daughter the help she needs. But even though they finally received a definite diagnosis, they were devastated.
Zahra couldn’t undergo brain surgery because her condition was too advanced.
“Her epilepsy is generalized in all her brain, so she has different types of seizures,” her mother stated.
Dr. Neil Parikh of Johns Hopkins All Children´s Hospital spoke to News Channel 8 about his patient’s diagnosis, which includes epileptic seizures of up to 15 episodes a day.
“She has multiple seizures every single day which leads to needing multiple antiseizure medicines, she also falls behind on her learning what we call mental delay,” Parikh said.
But there is a new plan for her.
In the coming weeks she will undergo a treatment called VNS (vagus nerve stimulation), a newer procedure used to prevent or lessen seizures in severe cases of epilepsy.
“We are trying to decrease as many seizures as possible. And may not have a complete seizure resolution but try to decrease the burden as much as possible so we can actually decrease her medication also.”
Her mother says her family has suffered economically during these years because she hasn’t been able to work while she’s taking care of Zahra. If you would like to help this family with the recovery of their daughter, you can click here.