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Parents decide on rare surgery for son having several seizures daily

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Sebastian Gazarik is a happy, healthy daredevil kindergartner in Washington County.

"He loves biking. He got into free style scooter. So he does that. He does all the jumps and acrobatics on his scooter," said his dad, Joseph Gazarik.

It is a big change from just a few years ago.

Sebastian's epilepsy was delaying his development and he wasn't talking.

"His brain was absorbing everything, but it couldn't put it all together," described his father.

After two failed medications, Sebastian was having 14 seizures a day.

Doctors ran tests and recommended brain surgery.

"His MRI showed a brain tumor in the right temporal lobe, and previous MRI did not have that finding," said Dr. Satyanarayana Gedela, the medical director of the Epilepsy Surgery Program at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Sebastian's doctors said it was important he had the surgery sooner rather than later.

A young child has a much better chance of recovering from brain surgery than he does as a teenager or adult.

"A child's brain is very plastic. It can take an insult and then rearrange its wiring, so to speak, and then get function back that was lost previously," said neurosurgeon Dr. Mandeep Tamber.

The Gazarik's recorded every step of the journey, posting the video on Youtube.

First, doctors implanted electrodes to pinpoint where the seizures started.

Then there was another surgery, this time to remove that part of Sebastian's brain.

It's a procedure Children's Hospital performs only a handful of times each year, but his parents felt it was the best option.

"At that point we were just so thankful because we knew that no matter what happened after this, it was going to be better," said Joseph Gazarik.

Now seizure-free, Sebastian has quickly made up for lost time.

"Now he speaks Slovak," said his mother, Ivana. "He can talk to you about things, about what he's thinking, about his dreams. And it's happening so fast."

Only 1/3 of epilepsy patients are candidates for brain surgery.

This year Children's Hospital will perform 18 of these surgeries; that's up from just three last year.

Doctors said 90 percent of surgeries will result in seizure-free children.

To learn more about the Epilepsy Center at Children's, click here.