Oliver Terrell is 6 years old, and introduces himself saying “I’ve been on Catalyst”, as if it’s quite common for a 6 year old to have had their brain surgery filmed for a science show.

Ollie’s story began with a stroke at birth and a diagnosis of cerebral palsy (hemiplegia affecting his right hand side). He had seizures at birth but didn’t develop epilepsy till aged 3 at which point his behaviour and concentration deteriorated. His family struggled to find someone who could correctly diagnose and effectively treat him until travelling to Melbourne to meet neurologist Simon Harvey at the Royal Children’s hospital. Being treated in Melbourne by Simon Harvey and neurosurgeon Wirginia Maixner was life changing. Wirginia Maixner cut the scar tissue from Ollie’s stroke out of his brain to remove the cause of his epilepsy, using trachtography to pin-point important functions such as movement and vision to preserve as much function as possible.

What Ollie’s family say…

While Ollie has lost a lot of right hand function, there are no seizures. He’s a different little boy. He’s more talkative and insightful, and his behaviour is no longer difficult to manage. All the posters at home about behaviour have come off the walls – he just doesn’t need them anymore. School is going much better. We go out as a family more, or even as one parent with our 3 kids and extra kids. That was unthinkable before.

Ollie was the Royal Children’s hospital’s 500th epilepsy surgery. Publicising the surgery will help the hospital attract funding.

As a family, we want to help other families find the neurology and neurosurgery department and to be less afraid of brain surgery, particularly the new option available using trachtography. We’re settled back into a more normal routine now, and are focused on rehabilitating Ollie’s right hand, which is how we found Friends of Brain Injured children. We look forward to meeting other families. Ollie’s twin, Joey, is looking forward to meeting other siblings who know what it feels like when the family’s world has revolved around one child in the family.

If anyone would like to talk about the surgery or the doctors in Melbourne, we’re happy to share our experiences.

Oliver with parents (Mark and Kimberley), Wirginia Maixner and Simon Harvey at the 500th epilepsy surgery celebrations.