Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
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Monroe Carell Jr.
Children's Hospital
at Vanderbilt
2200 Children's Way
Nashville, TN 37232

(615) 936-1000

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Meet Olivia

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Barry West thought his daughter, Olivia, was acting like a typical 3-year-old as she stumbled out of a grocery store and lost her footing.

"I said, ‘Come on Olivia, walk right,' " West recalls. "I thought she was being silly."

She had a blank stare on her face and was unresponsive. She was having a seizure - the first of many.

Over the next decade, Olivia would endure a storm of uncontrollable, violent brain seizures, sometimes eight or nine a day.

Since 1998, she has come frequently from her home in Princeton, Ky., to Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt.

Olivia, now 15, will have been seizure-free two years in January, after doctors at Children's Hospital resected a small part of her brain.

But the path to be free from seizures was bumpy as doctors searched for the right medications to calm her busy brain.

Someone had to be with her 24 hours a day.

The young, resilient girl never stopped going on family vacations or fishing trips. In sixth grade, she went to a school dance. Although she didn't know at the time, her father kept a watchful eye from a corner in the school with the principal's permission.

"We never stopped doing things that any kid would do," West said. "She even had a seizure on a paddle boat one time. We tried very hard to make life normal. We just planned."

Faith and prayers from the people who surrounded Olivia allowed her and her family to push ahead, even during the toughest times.

"Faith played an important role in her ability, and ours, to deal with and overcome the seizures," West said. "Her bravery through the seizures and the surgeries was an inspiration to us and all those around her."

Olivia has passed her time painting portraits of people's pets, often from photographs they ask her to replicate. She has sold some paintings in her hometown, and she hopes to create artwork for Children's Hospital.

"We didn't think she would be able to drive. We never thought she would be able to stay at home alone," said West. "It's amazing how much things have changed."

Olivia still has appointments at Children's Hospital about every three months for follow ups. The family is grateful for the care that they have received from her neurologist, Jesus Eric Pina-Garza, M.D., and other staff.

"They've always listened to us, they've always been as accommodating as possible, and they have always considered what we thought and what we felt," West praised. "We hope that her story can help someone else."

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