Pioneering brain op helps Tracey Tunnicliff lead normal life
EPILEPTIC Tracey Tunnicliff has become one of the first patients in Britain to have pioneering brain surgery designed to limit her fits.
Surgeons have inserted a battery-powered mechanism inside the 38-year-old's chest which sends electrical impulses to the brain via a set of wires.
The procedure is usually reserved for Parkinson's Disease sufferers.
But Tracey, of Birches Head, hopes the operation will help restore some normality to her life after she was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 17.
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Tracey had been suffering up to six seizures every day before the operation.
She said: "My condition has meant I have not been able to drive, go swimming or have a job and I hope to be able to do some of these things now."
Tracey suffered her first seizure when she was training to become a nursery nurse and was placed on medication.
But five years later the condition worsened.
Tracey, of Moston Street, added: "I was suffering absent seizures which basically meant that someone could be talking to me and I would just stare blankly at them for about 30 seconds and then have no memory of anything they said.
"But it did get a lot worse and I suffered a drop seizure which basically means I collapse.
"The first time I suffered a drop seizure I fell all the way down the stairs."
The condition got so bad that Tracey could not go out on her own.
Then in 2010 she visited the Walton Centre – a specialist neurological centre in Liverpool – where a consultant offered her the option of surgery.
They found Tracey was suitable for the deep brain stimulation operation and she underwent the surgery in October.
The battery-powered device in her chest was switched on for the first time last week.
She added: "There came a point where I was having about six seizures every day.
"I am on 13 tablets a day at the moment and with the surgery I hope it will halve the number of seizures I have."
Tracey has been supported through her ordeal by her husband.
Mechanic Carl, aged 43, added: "Tracey has been very brave with everything she's been through."
Tracey's mum, Christine Brough, has marked her daughter's recovery by having her head shaved to raise funds for Epilepsy Action.
The charity fund-raiser was held at Sante Hair and Beauty, in Trentham Road, Dresden, on Saturday afternoon.
Christine, aged 58, of Melrose Avenue, Sneyd Green, who works as a sales rep, said: "The operation was drastic but it was something she needed to do."
To make a donation towards Christine's appeal visit www.justgiving.com/christinebrough or text 'trac98' followed by the amount to 70070.