CHATHAM, NJ - Katie Hauck is looking forward to next year, when her mother says she'll be allowed to have sleepovers again.
That's a sign of how far the 12-year-old Chatham Middle School student has come since she received five brain surgeries to battle her epileptic seizures this past summer. Considering that she used to suffer seizures every night, Katie Hauck is well on her way to recovery.
On Saturday, Morgan Maltby, tri-captain of the CHS varsity girls, helped organize the third annual Shana's Cup, named in honor of Shana McLaughlin, who was battling cancer at the time. Shana now has a clean bill of health, and this year the focus was on FACES (Finding A Cure for Epileptic Seizures).
The boys and girls teams combined to play a round-robin tournament at Cougar Field and raise $3,500 for FACES.
FACES, founded by one of Katie's doctors, Orrin Devinsky, brings awareness and funding, helping children with epileptic seizures. Katie is one person who is getting that help through innovative surgery.
"My first seizure was a full-body seizure and I couldn't talk," Katie said. "They didn't want it to get worse, so last summer, they did four surgeries to try and get rid of it. They thought it was only going to be three. During the third, they realized it would affect my left hand and arm, so my mom was freaking out."
So, Dr. Howard Weiner decided Katie was candidate for an "Awake Craniotomy," where she could help pinpoint the problem by moving her hand and arm when instructed during the procedure. Katie was awake while they worked on removing part of her brain. She was the youngest person to ever receive such a procedure.
"Your brain doesn't feel pain, it only sends the message to other parts of your body," Katie said. "When I was awake it didn't hurt. To me, it felt like three minutes and it was actually 45 minutes. They would say move your hands or where did I just touch you.''
Five months later, and Katie is well enough to think about sleepovers and other kid stuff.
"I've only had two seizures in the past month," Katie said. "That's very good. I used to have them every night. And they last four seconds now, it used to be 10 seconds. The only part of my body affected is from my elbow down, hand. My fist clenches."
Dr. Weiner, who Katie calls "Howie" is dedicated to his patients. Recently, he was supposed to be on vacation, but wound up performing four surgeries in six days.
"When I was in the hospital, Howie was one of my best friends because I was there for two months," Katie said. "When I woke up from one of my surgeries, the first thing I said was "Hey, Howie." I've been calling him that ever since."
To learn more about FACES (Finding A Cure for Epileptic Seisures) click here