July 26, 2009

Child will have rare brain surgery

Doctors at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond will perform a rare brain surgery this week on a 7-year-old girl, her mother said.

Lexi Haas of Charlotte, N.C., suffers from kernicterus, a rare complication of jaundice. She can't talk or control the movement of her muscles.

Doctors will bore two holes through Lexi's skull and thread tiny electrodes inside her brain, targeting the spot damaged by jaundice, The Charlotte Observer reported Sunday.

Doctors will implant a battery-operated generator in her abdomen Aug. 5 and will then thread wires beneath her skin, connecting the generator to the electrodes.

Doctors say they hope pulses from the generator will block the abnormal firing of neurons in Lexi's brain that prevent her from talking or walking. They say they expect to know by Aug. 24 when they turn on the generator.

Her parents, Susan, a medical writer, and Ken, a chiropractor, knew she had jaundice when she was born, Susan Hass said, but were told by their pediatrician it did not require therapy. The doctor did not return the Observer's phone calls.