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Meet Christina Santhouse - a woman with only half a brain who is now a speech pathologist

Think Change India
27th Feb 2016
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At 28, Christina Santhouse has a Master’s Degree, is married, owns a home and works a fulfilling job as a speech pathologist. Then, what is that sets her apart from almost all of us? You’ll never suspect that Christina who is fully functional and thriving, has just half a brain. In February 1996, when she was eight-years-old, she had one half of her brain removed.

Image: Splash Studios
Image: Splash Studios

When Christina was seven, she was diagnosed with Rasmussen’s Encephalitis, an inflammation of one hemisphere of the brain. The condition is life threatening and causes frequent seizures. By the time she was eight, she was having up to 150 seizures a day. In lieu of chemotherapy and steroid treatments, Christina had a 14-hour hemispherectomy, a procedure in which the right side of the brain was surgically removed. She lost most of her motor skills on the left side of her body, but it didn’t deter her from fulfilling her dreams.

In high-school, Christina was definite she wanted to have career in which she’d help people. She decided to become a speech pathologist. Christina attended Misericordia University and earned her undergraduate and master’s degree in five years. Upon graduation, she got a job at Bucks County Intermediate Unit, which provides services for public schools in Philadelphia, USA.

Christina is known to have a big heart. Beyond her kind spirit, loved ones say her drive is what’s gotten her to where she is today. Before her illness, Christina was an active child who was obsessed with football. After the surgery, she was in extreme pain. The migraines persisted for months. As she lost most of her motor skills on the left ride of her body, she was forced to quit sports and her inability to play with her friends caused many of them to drift away. Doctors told her she would never drive a car.

Instead of getting bogged down, Christina ploughed on at full speed. By 17, she got her driver’s license. She stayed up all night finishing her homework and became an honour’s student. She found an activity that allowed her to fulfil her need to engage in team sports – bowling. In her senior year, she became captain of her team, leading them to competitions in England and Australia.

“You’re stronger than you know. You’re going to have difficult times, but you need to find the strength within yourself. And when you can’t find that strength, look to others around you because they will boost you up when you need some guidance and strength,” says Christina, as reported by The Huffington Post.

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