Montreal family runs half marathon for daughter with rare brain condition

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WATCH ABOVE: Inspired by the strength of his 10-year-old daughter, who underwent 15-hour brain surgery, Corbett Rowcliffe is taking part in the Banque Scotia 21k half marathon to raise funds for the MAB-Mackay Centre. Global's Billy Shields reports – Apr 22, 2016

KIRKLAND – After 10-year-old Ainsley Rowcliffe underwent surgery that turned off half her brain, her parents are rallying to raise awareness of the rare disease.

The couple and their friends are taking part in the Scotia Bank half marathon on Sunday to raise money for the MAB-Mackay Centre.

“Ainsley, like a lot of special-needs children, just wants to be loved and liked,” said Corbett Rowcliffe, her father.

Born deaf in one ear, Ainsley started missing milestones at 18-months-old.

Doctors diagnosed her with cortical dysplasia, a genetic disorder that causes debilitating seizures.

“Our daughter’s brain was short-circuiting and it was damaging her from the inside out,” said Jocelyn Rowcliffe, Ainsley’s mother.

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“To say our lives shattered was an understatement. It did, and it has shattered, many times since.”

After Ainsley withstood waves of seizures for years, some of which didn’t have visible symptoms, the girl’s parents decided to undergo a radical procedure – a functional hemispherectomy.

The 15-hour operation purposely turned half her brain off, but her mother said it was a necessary step.

“This surgery was the last resort opportunity,” she told Global News.

Ainsley still has a long recovery ahead of her.

She lacks some motor function, however that should come back as she learns to walk again; she has also partially lost some of her vision as a consequence of the surgery.

Yet, her father said Ainsley’s already gone back to participating in sports, like rhythmic gymnastics.

“She went to the Quebec championships and went home with three medals,” Rowcliffe told Global News.

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