First-of-its-kind Surgery at Children’s Provides Hope, Seizure Relief

Omaha teen finds relief from neurological condition

Jonathan’s Story

Waiting on a miracle.

That’s how Omaha mother, Neysi Mendez-Tadeo, described the last eight years as her son battled debilitating seizures. Diagnosed with Rasmussen’s Encephalitis, a rare neurological condition, 15-year-old Jonathan had regressed to a state of constant twitching on his right side.

Then, in the summer of 2021, pediatric neurologist Sookyong Koh, M.D., Ph.D. joined Children’s Nebraska as Division Chief of Neurology. Months later, she was joined by pediatric neurosurgeon Afshin Salehi, M.D., M.S. Through collaboration, Children’s pediatric neurosciences team determined surgical intervention was the only option for Jonathan, and it would require a procedure believed to be the first of its kind in the state of Nebraska.

“The surgery we did is called a functional hemispherotomy. Essentially, it entails disconnecting the involved hemisphere from the rest of the brain,” explained Dr. Salehi. “The amazing thing was that, on the day of surgery, Jonathan went to sleep seizing and when he woke up from surgery, he’s not seized since then. It was kind of like a light switch.”

Not only did the seizures stop, but in the months that followed, Jonathan regained some function on the right side of his body, and even surprised the neurosciences team by walking with limited assistance.

“It’s been said for Rasmussen’s Encephalitis that if you cannot walk before surgery, you cannot walk after surgery, “ Dr. Koh said. “For Jonathan, not being able to walk before, but being able to walk following surgery after half of his brain has been disconnected, is really a miracle.”


At Children’s Nebraska, we provide the most comprehensive, personalized, continuum of care in the region to treat complex pediatric neurological conditions.
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