By the time Andrew Rios was 2 years old, he had already been given nine different medications to quell the non-stop seizures that had racked his little body since he was just 5 months old.
One of them, Felbamate, caused severe bruising, as well as insomnia, which makes epileptic seizures worse. Depakote put him in a coma for four days. Phenobarbital made him very aggressive, which led to a prescription for an antipsychotic medication. The final drug, Banzel, seemed to increase the number of seizures, from two a day to six a day.
Andrew’s mother, Genesis Rios, said the neurologists at his hospital told her that if Banzel didn’t improve things, there were no more pharmaceutical options for her son. Instead, she would need to consider either a brain surgery that could blind him in one eye or vagus nerve stimulation surgery, which involves inserting a pacemaker-like rod into his chest.
Rios and her husband felt they were at the end of the road for Andrew. At 24 months old, when he should have been walking and talking, Andrew spent his days in his mother’s arms, crying and seizing. The combined brain damage from the seizures and side effects from the medication caused him to seriously lag behind his twin brother, who was developing normally.