Neurological Foundation - Chair of Neurosurgery

Neurosurgery unit saving lives

January 2012

When Invercargill mum Melissa Kane signed the petition to keep Dunedin's neurosurgery unit from being moved to Christchurch, she had no idea that the result would affect her 5-month-old daughter, Emily.

In late 2010, when going into a rugby game, she remembers scribbling her name on a petition that was being presented by a woman wearing pyjamas.

"I think I thought `oh poor lady in pyjamas' and signed it. I caught up with friends and told them I'd just signed the petition to keep the neurosurgery in Dunedin and then said `it's not like I'll ever need it myself'."

Mrs Kane said she thought at worst it would be something she might need when she got older.

"Two months later the neurosurgery unit saved my daughter's life."

This week marks the one-year anniversary of Emily's fall at home that left her with a triangle-shaped indentation in her skull.

Describing the night Emily, now 17 months, had the accident, she remembers only the panic of phoning the ambulance, while on the phone to her husband, Travis.

The dent in Emily's skull was "awful" she said. Emily was conscious while being taken to Southland Hospital by ambulance and then to the neurosurgery unit in Dunedin.

Mrs Kane said the question of her daughter's survival left her and her husband sleepless for the next two days as Emily underwent the "longest hour and a half of my life"craniotomy performed by neurologist Ahmad Taha, and then there was the waitto see whether there had been lasting damage.

Later, the family was told that Emily had bleeding in the brain and it was fortunate she was able to undergo the surgery immediately, Mrs Kane said.

During the four-day stay at the neurosurgery unit, visits from Dr Taha and even the ambulance driver who had taken them to Dunedin meant a lot to the family.

Having the neurosurgery unit near had helped streamline Emily's surgery and made the recovery time easier, as it meant extended family could be there for support and to take care of Emily's brother Cameron, 3.

A seizure six weeks after the surgery has been the only complication since the accident.