Amber Ramirez had the left side of her brain - which controls speech and fine motor movements - removed in a nine-hour operation at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore on Tuesday. It could mean that she cannot speak, but the 15-year-old decided that it was a price worth paying. "I've lived all my life with seizures," she said before the operation. "I'm tired of having to put up with it."
Her seizures were caused by Rasmussen's syndrome, which gradually eats away at the brain. It affects fewer than 1,000 people around the world. Amber first felt a pain in her foot, then the seizures followed, causing crippling pain. Without a hemispherectomy she could eventually have been left paralysed and have suffered severe brain damage.
She was recovering well, the hospital said yesterday. "I anticipate that she will be able to speak and eventually live a quite normal life," said her surgeon, Dr Benjamin Carson. The other side of the brain compensates in some ways for the loss of the tissue.