Local woman gets surgery and is now seizure free

45,000 children younger than 18 are diagnosed with epilepsy every year

Nicole Dehn was motivated to get help for her epileptic seizures when she lost her ability to drive.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Nicole Dehn just turned 30 years old, and one of the last things she wants taken away ever again is her ability to drive.

"I wouldn't have thought, 'Oh this will be the last day I drive myself to work for eight years, and then..." said Dehn.

Her license was taken away in her 20s after an epileptic seizure forced her off the road crashing into trees.

"I remember when I started to come to and like I said the officer is talking to me and I'm trying to understand what he's talking about.  And when I finally started to realize I was like, 'oh I need to call work.' I'm not coming in today," said Dehn.

Nicole had already tried intercranial nuero stimulation. It helped reduce her number of seizures but didn't get rid of them. Her neurologist, William Tatum at Mayo Clinic, offered what could be a permanent fix.

"I mentioned it to her after seeing her repeatedly that you're still having seizures, there's potentially an operation that can help you.  When she heard about the minimally invasive nature of the surgery was then she was very excited," said Tatum.

Nicole would agree to be a part of a clinical trial using laser ablation.

"So the surgery actually entails a small tiny hole that's placed in the back of the head. There's a laser probe that's inserted through the brain into the area that's targeted for the laser ablation.  And at that point in time then there is a test-dose and then the dose that is actually the therapy that is delivered inside of minutes. And that's the end of the story," said Tatum.

But for Nicole it was the beginning of a story she knew well.  It allowed her to get back behind the wheel.  It didn't take long for her to go apply for a new license...it was almost as fast as she was allowed to go back home.

"I know that's what people were like you should be in bed at least 24 hours.  And I was like no I'm ready to go home I live right down the road I want to go," said Dehn.

And so far so good, no seizures, no accidents and no excuses to not enjoy the little things.

"I just love it.  I'm just driving everywhere I drove her to the wedding, to the church it's like 'I'll drive you! I'll drive you'," said Dehn.

The device is FDA approved but this is a clinical trial for epilepsy use. They are still taking participants.

For more information contact the Mayo Clinic at 953-2000

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