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SSM Health Medical Minute – Brain surgeon cures epilepsy for one local man

ST. LOUIS - Codie Oberson, 21, got his first seizure in fourth grade.

“It was scary because I was in fourth grade and I had them whenever I was in the classroom and the next thing I know I woke up in a hospital,” he said.

Medication helped for the first few years, but as a teenager, the seizures became more frequent and the side effects of the medications made him sleepy and unenergetic. At the age of 20, Codie's seizures advanced to up to 20 or 30 per month, forcing him home from college. He was desperate for a better quality of life.

Codie was recommended to Dr. Phillipe Mercier, SLUCare neurosurgeon at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital. He learned that brain surgery could dramatically improve his quality of life. Dr. Mercier immediately gave him hope for a life free from epileptic seizures. Although nervous to have parts of his brain removed, he went into surgery excited for brighter days.

Dr. Mercier performs surgery for individuals living with epilepsy where the medication needed to control seizures is no longer effective. Two-thirds of patients respond to medication but the remaining third may need brain surgery. In certain cases, surgery can dramatically improve the quality of life for people with epilepsy.

"The only thing that actually treats the cause of seizures is surgery. Before surgery I can identify where it is coming from so I know prior to surgery so that I can remove that piece of the brain and when I remove it then I've removed the cause of the seizure and therefore cure epilepsy”, said Dr. Mercier.

Dr. Mercier pinpointed the area of the brain causing Codie’s seizures to ensure the area of his brain could safely be removed without causing problems with the function of the brain. Codie’s surgery was a success. With over 100 days seizure free since the November surgery, Codie says he can finally regain control of his life again. He’s taking online classes at Missouri State until he can return to live on campus. He’s learned a new passion for helping other children who live with the constant fear of debilitating seizures forcing them to take a back seat to living a carefree childhood. “I smile non stop all the time now which is amazing cause I used to cry sad tears every day now I cry happy tears almost every single day which is amazing.”

For more information about treating epilepsy, click here.

The SSM Health Medical Minute airs every Thursday at 7 PM on KPLR News 11 and at 9 PM on KTVI Fox 2 News.