Young Aliera Murphy won the hearts of readers last year when the Herald Sun and the Hamilton Spectator followed the brave four-year-old’s medical journey through several brain surgeries to try to stop hundreds of weekly seizures.
The surgeries to remove parts of her brain resulted in a significant reduction in the number of seizures the bright youngster suffers. Aliera, now 5, is in prep and loving, particularly the social side, of being at school. Her seizures are largely controlled by medication, although further surgery in the future is a possibly.
Aliera also had an inoperable low grade tumour deep in her brain stem that needed to be closely monitored. Mum Erika said there are still monthly visits to The Royal Children’s Hospital, “but I wouldn’t have it any other way, we’re in the best hands possible”.
While the dedicated hospital staff take care of her medical issues, Aliera’s family are committed to doing whatever they can to raise money for the hospital with the Good Friday Appeal.
Her brother, Kaeden, 7, a keen artist, sells his own line of Christmas cards and will soon launch a Christmas calendar. “Kaeden does his art work and we get it printed on to cards that we sell for the appeal,” Erika said. “I’m a hairdresser in Hamilton so I have clients who come in and buy his cards and we sell them on Facebook. I think he’s sold about 500 so far”.
Kaeden’s card available at Maker’s Market, Hamilton
“This year we also ran a bake sale outside a local café around Good Friday and raised close to $4500”. Erika said the family had always rattled tins for the Good Friday Appeal but had been doing a lot more since Aliera began attending the hospital. “It made us realise just how important the hospital is,” she said.
Aliera was just 11 months old when, resting in her mother’s arms, she had her first seizure. Anti-epileptic medication was tried over the next year with limited success and surgeons at The Royal Children’s Hospital first removed part of her brain when she was two.This should have been the end of the story but a few months later she started having seizures again and an unusual two-step surgical procedure was planned for March 2016.
In the first step, part of the little girl’s skull was removed and more than 70 electrodes placed over her brain. The neurology team was then able to stimulate the electrodes during a language test to locate the areas of Aliera’s brain controlling her ability to speak and to understand speech. Four days later neurosurgeons removed a further 2cm area of brain matter without comprising young Aliera’s power of speech.
“She still does have some seizures, but nothing like it was,” Erika said. “She seems to be going pretty well at the moment.” As she has done throughout her young life, Aliera continues to embrace the opportunities and delight those around her.