Woodbury’s Little Wonder

After 100 seizures a day, dramatic brain surgery helps little girl.

Josh Ault, NBC 5 News

The birth of Nora Blackman 2 and a half years ago was trouble free, but complications arose 20 minutes later when the newborn started suffering seizures.

She spent the next few weeks in hospitals, undergoing extensive testing, and was diagnosed with Cortical Dysplasia.

“I always thought the hospital was supposed to send you home with a perfect baby and they were going to keep her until they fixed her,” her mother, Tracey Blackman, said tearfully. “No, they don’t do that, so that was tough.”

Doctors told the family that Nora’s brain did not develop properly in utero. There is no known cause for Nora’s condition, which was causing as many as 100 seizures a day.

Tracey says they learned to adjust.

“Lots of friends did not admit to me when they would come to the house and see her, they would cry when they left and to me it was everyday. It was our life everyday.” Tracey said.

Anti-seizure medication wasn’t working and Nora’s parents decided they had to do something.

At 5 months old, Nora underwent a Hemispherectomy.

Surgeons disconnected the left side of her brain, which was causing the seizures. After a second surgery at 14 months old, Nora was seizure-free.

Only around 100 of the surgeries are performed in the United States annually, according to The Hemispherectomy Foundation.

Today, Nora is an adorable toddler who is talking and learning to walk. She undergoes extensive physical therapy to help with strength and coordination on her right side, which was left weak after the surgery because it had been controlled by the left side of her brain.

“She’s always happy and willing to do whatever I’m presenting to her,” her physical therapist, Cathy Clark of Pediatric Therapy Associates in Newtown, said.

Clark uses large red balls, swings and toys to encourage Nora to work hard physically.

The toddler gives it her all, the entire time, with a smile on her face and a sparkle in her stunning blue eyes.

Her mother said her cognitive evaluations have revealed that she is normal for her age.

Tracey Blackman calls her little girl her angel and her best friend. She hopes that Nora will be able to walk on her own by her third birthday and realizes the road ahead could be a long one.

“She may have some physical limitations that we don’t know and she may always be a special needs child, one way or another, but we’re ready whatever,” Blackman said.

The Blackman’s church, Saint Teresa’s in Woodbury, recently held a fundraiser to help the family with the costs of Nora’s care and give back to a little girl who gives them so much.

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