Lindsey Kaufman was athletic and successful in school – a happy girl whose childhood had never suggested any medical challenges. So her parents were puzzled when, at age 10, Lindsey began experiencing small “blankouts,” her mind seeming to wander briefly before she resumed consciousness.
As these episodes grew more frequent, Chris and Jackie Kaufman took their daughter for an examination at the Nicklaus Children's Dan Marino Outpatient Center in Weston. This led to a stunning diagnosis: Lindsey had a porencephalic cyst, a cavity in her brain. Tissue bordering the cyst was causing seizures that manifested as moments of blankness in which Lindsey would stare, unseeing. A porencephalic cyst is a rare disorder that can result from a disruption in blood flow to the brain while a fetus is in utero. Essentially, Lindsey was missing a fifth of her brain.
Her parents were in awe that she had managed to meet all her milestones, participate in sports and take advanced classes despite a brain anomaly that had affected her since birth. When anti-seizure mediations failed to curb Lindsey’s seizures, it was time for the care team to look at next steps. The Pompano Beach family was fortunate to be near Nicklaus Children's Brain Institute, one of the top centers in the nation for treatment of medically resistant epilepsy.
After a 2011 evaluation, led by neurologist Dr. Michael Duchowny, Director of the Brain Institute Epilepsy Center, the family was pleased to learn that Lindsey was a candidate for brain surgery. This intervention would give her a chance at a normal future in which she could drive a car and swim without fear. To prepare for the surgical removal of the diseased tissue, 92 electrodes were surgically implanted in Lindsey’s brain in October to help surgeons define the locations of centers for speech and gross and fine motor skills in relation to the malfunctioning tissue. Information gleaned from this process paved the way for a subsequent surgery, performed by Dr. John Ragheb, Director of Neurosurgery, to remove the seizure-causing tissue.
Since then, Lindsey, now 13, has been seizure-free with no neurological deficits. “At Nicklaus Children's (Brain Institute), you don’t have just a single doctor; you have an entire team of 15 to 20 specialists to consult in your child’s care. We felt so confident in the team and their abilities. We thank everyone for giving us our happy ending,” said Jackie.