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F ROM T H E DAY S E BAS T I ANA MANU E L WAS BORN

her tiny body was wracked by seizures. She didn’t eat. She would

twist her neck and scream. Her family knew something was wrong

but didn’t know exactly what. Doctors at her north county birth

hospital also were unable to pinpoint a cause of the seizures. They

sent Sebastiana to the neonatal intensive care unit at Rady Children’s

Hospital, where the mystery deepened. Not only was the cause of her

seizures unclear, but traditional antiseizure medicine did not work.

“I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t do anything except pray,” re-

members her mother, Dolores.

Doctors tried three different medications, but they did not stop

the seizures. Sebastiana was also too sleepy to eat, says Jeffrey Gold,

MD, PhD, director of Neonatal Neurology. For any newborn, frequent

feedings are critical, and with Sebastiana’s increasingly poor condi-

tion, Dr. Gold knew there was no time to lose.

Until that point, Sebastiana’s experience had been no different

from that of other acutely ill newborns who are transferred to in-