Young girl seizure-free thanks to cutting-edge technology at Children’s Minnesota

A north metro family is sharing their story of hope after life-changing brain surgery, thanks to MRI technology at Children’s Minnesota.

Eight-year-old Nora Grimes was diagnosed with epilepsy two years ago and has suffered multiple seizures per day.

“In 2022, she had over 4,000 seizures,” said Nora’s mother, Tina Grimes. “She’s fallen off her bike because of seizures and even broke her arm because of a seizure.”

She said medication did not seem to be helping control the seizures.

The family met with pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Meysam Kebriaei at Children’s Minnesota, who used cutting-edge technology to implant small electrodes on the brain and pinpoint where the seizures were originating.

RELATED: 2-year-old experiencing 50 seizures per day finds relief through surgery

Dr. Kebriaei said they found a benign tumor in Nora’s brain triggering the seizures.

“We knew as scary as brain surgery is, it’s what we needed to do,” Tina Grimes said.

Dr. Kebriaei said Nora’s surgery was successful, largely due to an intraoperative MRI, also called an iMRI, which allows doctors to see real-time images mid-surgery at their hospital in St. Paul.

“It’s like science fiction coming to real life,” Dr. Kebriaei explained.

He said the iMRI was brought into the operating room during Nora’s surgery, allowing them to scan her brain before completing the surgery.

An intraoperative MRI system is shown at Children’s Minnesota in Minneapolis. (Courtesy of Children’s Minnesota)

Normally, if iMRI is not available, a patient would have to be wheeled to another wing of the hospital or complete a follow-up MRI at a later time.

“Instead, the iMRI came in. I looked at it, the radiologist looked at it and we saw a very small area, just a few millimeters, of abnormal tissue that were still there,” Dr. Kebriaei said. “In Nora’s case, that little bit of tissue would have been left behind had we not had the intraoperative MRIs, so it really made the difference between having a surgery and still having some seizures afterwards versus being seizure-free.”

The surgery was completed in mid-January.

“And today is 36 days seizure-free,” Tina Grimes said. “It’s literally given her a second chance at being a kid.”

RELATED: Mayo Clinic procedure credited with dramatically reducing seizures in Wisconsin man with epilepsy

Children’s Minnesota is preparing to expand their use of iMRI technology with the opening of a new iMRI suite at its Minneapolis campus.

“It’s almost finished, and our first patient is scheduled in March, so we’re ready to get this rolling,” Dr. Kebriaei said.

A spokesperson also told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS it will make Children’s Minnesota the first pediatric health system in North America equipped with both moving-scanner and moving-patient MRI technology in the same surgical space.

The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation iMRI Surgical Suite will have two operating rooms and a diagnostic room housing the MRI scanner.

Children’s Minnesota will use the suite to perform brain and total spine scans so doctors can make real-time decisions mid-surgery.

The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation made a $4 million donation for this project and is offering a “matching challenge” through the end of the year.

If the community is able to raise another $1.5 million for the iMRI suite and neurosciences program at Children’s Minnesota, the foundation will match those donations.

Children’s Minnesota is hosting Give to Kids Day on Thursday, hoping to raise $25,000 toward this effort.