By Brian W. Donnelly, M.D., I.B.C.L.C., Pediatric Alliance — North Hills Division


“Leveling the Playing Field”



Ever hear of it? Many Americans, including many physicians, have not. But Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy deserves more exposure.

Epilepsy in America affects more than 3 million people. Up to 50,000 people a year die from epilepsy or epilepsy-related causes. SUDEP is the number one cause on that list. It is often mysterious, and needs more public awareness. It definitely needs more medical investigation. Families of children with epilepsy would benefit from these efforts.

Locally, such efforts are being made. In July of 2008, a beautiful 7-year-old girl with epilepsy went to sleep. Sadly for us, she did not awaken. She had succumbed to SUDEP. The family of Emma Bursick did what they could to recover emotionally. Then they learned that such an experience was not as rare as they were initially led to believe. So they embarked on a journey of education and outreach. One of the most important tools they have developed is called Fair Play.

Fair Play is a community event designed to spread the word about SUDEP and to raise funds for more research and patient support projects. This year’s event will be held this Saturday, July 11, at Emmerling Community Park, Indiana Township, from 3 to 7 PM.

Please consider joining us as we celebrate Emma’s legacy and do the necessary work to keep other Emmas healthy and well.

Go to for more information.