Skip to Main Content

Florida Girl Is Seizure-Free After Undergoing New Laser Surgery To Remove Rare Brain Tumor

Posted in:
An 11-year-old Florida girl who suffered approximately 50 seizures a month from a rare brain tumor is now seizure-free after undergoing a new and revolutionary laser brain surgery in Arizona.


Holly Hudson, who was born with a type of tumor called hypothalamic hamartoma (HH), traveled to Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix last month to undergo the new procedure in which brain surgeons were able to completely remove the mass that was causing her seizures. Since her surgery, Hudson has not suffered a single seizure.

Hudson lived her entire life plagued by seizures caused by the tumor. Although HH tumors are benign, they can cause severe seizures, damage to the brain, and lead to progressive cognitive impairment. Hudson was diagnosed with epilepsy at age 3, but her tumor was not discovered until last year. The tumor is so rare that her team of neurologists and neurosurgeons in Florida had never heard of it and recommend she wait a year before seeking treatment options.

“This condition is not well known and we weren’t sure which steps to take to help our daughter,” says Gina Hudson, Holly’s mom. “As luck would have it however, I stumbled across a news story about a young man who had been cured of his seizures following a new surgery at Barrow to treat the same condition. I immediately contacted Barrow and they agreed to take Holly’s case.”

The new minimally invasive brain surgery uses MRI-guided laser technology to destroy HH brain tumors. Holly’s brain surgery required only three stiches and a night’s stay in the hospital.

Hudson underwent the surgery on June 6 at Barrow which is located at Dignity’s Health’s St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix. She was then transferred to Phoenix Children’s Hospital for an overnight stay. Just three days later, she and her family returned to Florida.

“We are so happy that we found a treatment option and a terrific hospital like Barrow to treat Holly’s seizures,” says Gina, who along with her husband, is a firefighter. “Had I not stumbled across that news story, we may never have found help for Holly. I want other parents to know not to ever give up and to always do their research.”

HH tumors affect approximately 1 in every 200,000 individuals. They lie in a portion of the brain that is hard to reach without causing severe damage to vital areas. Barrow was the first hospital in the United States to treat HH tumors and the Institute’s Hypothalamic Hamartoma Program remains the most experienced in the nation, providing comprehensive evaluation, diagnostic testing and treatment for patients with this rare disorder.”

“Not long ago, before this type of laser technology became available, removal of these masses required much more invasive surgery,” says Dr. Peter Nakaji, Hudson’s neurosurgeon at Barrow. “I’m thrilled we were able to help Holly and the whole team at Barrow is gratified by her terrific recovery.”

Hudson, who will be in fifth grade next year, is looking forward to returning to her favorite sport of swimming and helping her mom do therapy work with their two miniature horses.

“I’m happy everyone at Barrow was able to help me,” says Holly. “Some of my seizures were scary and now I hopefully won’t have anymore.”

Publish date: 

Monday, July 07, 2014

Media Contact

Carmelle Malkovich, External Communications Director

p: (602) 406-3319

[email protected]