Dr. Karceski wasn’t about to let that happen. He was regularly monitoring her brain activity remotely, analyzing her brain waves and battery levels thanks to the information Drake downloaded from her RNS device to a shared database multiple times a week.
“I was calling her often to reassure her that her battery was still OK and not to worry. And she would say, ‘I’m so glad you called because I keep thinking it’s going to run out,’” says Dr. Karceski.
“We were doing this for all of our patients, especially during the quarantine,” adds Dr. Karceski. “We were checking in and monitoring them as often as we could because we don’t want these devices to run down faster than we expect and then have problems.”
After two months, however, Drake’s device had an elective replacement indicator (ERI) alert, which meant the battery was on its last legs. “We probably had about three months to get the surgery done, but we didn’t want to take a chance,” says Dr. Karceski.
As surgeries resumed at NewYork-Presbyterian, Dr. Theodore Schwartz, director of epilepsy surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, presented Drake’s case to a departmental review board, asking for approval to bring her in.
“Her surgery was not an emergency, but if her seizures are not controlled, she would be at risk of having an adverse event that could cause permanent damage to her brain and her body,” says Dr. Schwartz, who implanted Drake’s RNS device in 2014.
“One of the reasons why we are so aggressive in treating seizures is that we know that there are rare but very serious consequences,” adds Dr. Karceski. “A serious seizure where there are convulsions and the patient loses consciousness can cause injuries and possibly death.”
The approval was immediate, and within nine days Drake arrived at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center to have the procedure on June 10.