Norfolk toddler Angelina enjoys “second life” after brain op

A New Year is bringing new hope to a north Norfolk toddler, who is enjoying a 'second life' after a major brain operation, and community help to buy equipment on the road to recovery.

Just over a year ago, two days before Christmas Eve the parents of little Angelina Mills were told she faced having an operation to disconnect half her brain.

Angelina, from Gresham near Cromer, who is now 18 months old, suffers from a rare condition called sturge-weber syndrome, which left her with a port wine stain on her face, epilepsy, bodily weakness and learning delay.

In a bid to stop seizures caused by the epilepsy, her parents, Lisa Massingham and Stephen Mills, were told by specialists at Great Ormond Street Hospital that the best chance was an hemispherectomy operation, which involved disconnecting the outer layer of the affected right half of her brain.

The couple made the difficult decision to press ahead with the operation, which took place in June this year.

Six months on and the youngster is fighting fit and exceeding everyone's expectations with what she is achieving.

Her mum Lisa, said: 'The whole of Christmas and New Year last year was a blur, I honestly cannot remember much about it, she was having up to 20 or 30 seizures a day.

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'Now, she has gone from sitting on the floor to having the confidence to push herself away from the sofa and stand on her own, that has happened over just the past few weeks, her confidence is building up all the time.

'She is also saying 'dadda' now, her whole personality is developing, she wants to get involved with things and plays games and wants to learn.

'She is also starting to protest about having her medicine, which is actually lovely for us, because normally she would just open her mouth and take it like a goldfish.

'It is really true what the hospital said to us, they needed to disconnect the bad because that was slowing down the good, by doing that, the good has taken over.'

The youngster has regular physiotherapy sessions and is visited on a fortnightly basis by a learning delay specialist, and also a play specialist, who comes out each week. She also has a splint on her left foot and a Lycra gauntlet on her left hand and arm to help with the growth of the arm.

Since the operation, she has had only four seizures, all at times when she has had a bug or a vaccination.

Ms Massingham added: 'This has given her a second life. She is just a totally different child. You do not think taking away half the brain would make things better, but it has done. If it was not for that operation, we do not know where our little girl would be.'

Over time the other part of Angelina's brain should begin to do the work of the disconnected part but she will need up to five years rehabilitation including physiotherapy occupational and speech therapy.

As well as having raised money for Great Ormond Street, Angelina's family and friends have also raised �8,000 to help create a sensory room for Angelina at their home, which they hope to build this year.