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Dell Children's working to bring new technology to patients

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It's a pricey piece of equipment that's giving doctors clues about the body's brain that they need to save lives. The only problem is there isn't one in Central Texas. Dell Children's Medical Center is working to change that.

"It's tiring and annoying and that feeling isn't very fun," Breanna Nielsen, 20, of Nebraska explained about what having a seizure is like.

The feeling is one Breanna's body could not control for nine years. She was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was 11 years old. It's a disorder that caused her brain cells to short circuit.

"You couldn't see it," she said about her seizures. "People think that when people have seizures their eyes jerk back in their head but most of the time I'd look normal and I'd just have that feeling."

She's been to countless doctor appointments and medication simply wasn't enough. Doctors in her hometown of Omaha, Nebraska operated but her seizures only became more frequent. Her mom, Kim, feared the worst. Determined to do anything for her daughter the Nielsens brought Breanna to Dell Children's Medical Center.

"I honestly felt like she was going to die if we didn't do this surgery," Kim Nielsen said.

"In Breanna's case it was severe," explained Dr. Dave Clarke, a pediatric epilepsy specialist. It was his job to find the small part of Breanna's brain that was causing such a big problem. Dr. Clarke ordered a magneto encephalography scan. T

"It can help us identify and narrow down areas where the seizures are coming from and the areas of function in the brain to avoid," Dr. Clarke explained about the significance of what the MEG can do.

The advanced technology gives doctors a detailed map of the brain. The only problem is the MEG isn't at Dell Children's. The Nielsens had to travel to Alabama for the scan. There are only five pediatric hospitals in the country that have the machine.

The MEG results helped Dr. Clarke and the rest of Breanna's team at Dell Children's develop an aggressive medical plan to make the seizures stop. Her journey is well documented in a family video.

In February, doctors operated for a second time but this surgery focused on a different part of her brain. Since the operation she's worked to gain her strength back.

"We'd practice taking steps and I walked with a cane and finally I threw it away and now I'm running," Breanna said smiling. "I feel like I'm just starting life."

"I think they got the spot, it's a miracle," her mom said. 

Since the operation Breanna has not had a single seizure.

Dell Children's hopes to raise the $4.1 million to bring a MEG machine to Central Texas, not just for epileptic patients like Breanna, but for other complicated conditions involving the brain.

"For them to have the MEG machine here and put the technology together with the minds of the men and women here is priceless," Kim Nielsen said.

One way Dell Children's plans on raising money is through an online gaming day on October 20th. You can play for a good cause by signing up at

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