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Dell Children's Team heroes to 1 Caribbean family

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The Dell Children's team in the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center is hero to one family from the Caribbean. The Khans made the trip to Central Texas from Trinidad in search of a diagnosis after Doctors there wouldn't explain their daughter's seizures.

The hospital has a program called the Caribbean International Outreach. Dr. Dave Clarke founded the program to serve the islands in the West Indies.

The Khans felt helpless not knowing what was wrong with their daughter but that feeling changed to hope after their trip to Texas. 

"I wouldn't remember anything or recall anything afterwards," said Thalia Khan who back in October started having what doctors presumed was epileptic seizures.

The past five months have been anything but easy for Thalia and her parents Dee-Ann and Bonnie. "I don't know how to describe it. It was extremely stressful and you can't sleep because you don't know what's going on," explained Dee-Ann Khan who searched for answers.

"They weren't able to diagnose it at home because we don't have all of the tests," Khan said.

Khan found hospitals across the country with epilepsy programs but many had waiting lists close to a year-long. For the Khans, waiting that long for an answer was not an option.

Thalia started taking medications for epilepsy. One of Thalia's doctors knew Dr. Dave Clarke, the head of Dell Children's Epilepsy Center. She also knew about the hospital's Caribbean International Outreach program.

The Khans found out about six weeks ago that an appointment was available in Dell's Epilepsy Monitoring Unit or EMU. They booked flights immediately, never imagining the help they needed would be in Austin, Texas.

Dr. Freedom Perkins is a Pediatric Epileptologist at Dell Children's. He's also a part of Thalia's team.

"The problem the folks in the Caribbean have is there are very few neurologists and there is only one EMU in the West Indies and it is geared for adults," said Dr. Perkins.

Thalia was admitted where her brain and body were tracked around the clock. After spending almost a week in the hospital the Khans got good news. Thalia's seizures were not epileptic, but rather stress induced. Dr. Perkins took Thalia off medication she didn't need and recommended therapy. 

The EMU at Dell Children's will soon be able to see more patients like Thalia. In May, the new Tower opens at the hospital adding two more beds bringing the total to eight. In the future, Dr. Perkins says, it's likely the unit will expand to 12 beds to meet the growing demand. 

"The demand is quite high when you look at three percent of the population has epilepsy that means we've got tens of thousands of people in the Austin area including children that could benefit from these services," said Dr. Perkins.

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