Device helps St. Paul woman with epilepsy become pregnant

- A way to combat epileptic seizures has changed the life of a St. Paul woman. She credits a medical device with helping her become a mom.

“I used to have a policy I would never take a bath alone or cook alone,” said Erica Reinke.

With so many risks in daily life, Erica and her husband Shawn accepted the fact they would likely never have a biological child of their own. 

Erica, diagnosed with epilepsy in 2008, has suffered from daily seizures since her college days.

“I've tried six or seven different mediations,” said Erica. “Some cause birth defects. Others are untested and we're just not willing to take that risk.”

Two years ago, Erica's doctor recommended response neurostimulation (RNS), which is a device implanted in her brain. It works similar to a pacemaker, monitoring and preventing seizures in real time. Erica downloads information to a laptop for her doctor daily. 

“I still have seizures every day or two, but they are not nearly as bad as they used to be,” she said. 

“I can sleep at night,” said Shawn. “I can go to work and know there is less of a chance I'm going to get that frantic phone call. That says ‘I need help.’”

The FDA approved RNS four years ago. It’s gaining popularity with up to nearly 1,500 patients giving it a try.

The founder of the device told Fox 9 RNS is specifically for patients with partial onset epilepsy who can't find medications that work for them.

“The system is tuned to look at the patient specific pattern onset,” said Frank Fischer, RNS Founder. “So it's personalized to each individual patient monitors the activity 24 hours a day.”

Finally, on a day 19 weeks ago, Erica and Shawn learned they are able to have that long awaited baby - due in March. 

Erica is thankful for the advancements in medical technology and medications and is excited what this next chapter in life has to bring. 

“It's really just - Wow I didn’t think we could ever do this and we are really excited,” she said. “I mean, it's something we've been trying and planning for and the fact that it finally happened is - oh wow!”

According to the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota about 60,000 people across the state have epilepsy.

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