Published December 28, 2010
David Axelrod, President Obama's senior adviser and architect of his 2008 campaign, doesn't fear a good political fight. But in his personal life, Axelrod and his wife, Susan, have been fighting a 29-year battle with their first child Lauren's epilepsy.
Their story began when Susan discovered her 7-month-old in the crib, blue and listless. "She was sort of salivating at the mouth, and making a guttural sound" Susan recalls. "I think I was just sort of in shock."
The Axelrods rushed Lauren to the hospital, where doctors told them their daughter was having a seizure.
"It took months after she got sick for someone to say, well, you know -- what she has is epilepsy," David told Fox News. "I knew the word, I knew it was bad. But I didn't quite know what it all meant."
Epilepsy is caused by a sudden, uncontrolled burst of electrical activity in the brain. The Axelrods were told Lauren would grow out of it by age 5, but she didn't. What's worse, her attacks were so severe and frequent that doctors couldn't treat them. Even though he was assured that the seizures wouldn't harm Lauren, David soon noticed "these seizures were doing ... tremendous damage to her."
They occurred more frequently as Lauren got older -- up to 25 times a day. "She would grab Susan's hand," David says. "She'd, you know, shriek, 'Mom, make them stop.' And then she'd go back into the seizures."
By the time Lauren turned 15, medicine no longer had any effect. Distraught, the family decided on a risky and complex neurosurgery -- a seven-hour procedure that tried to pinpoint the source of the condition. It failed, and the Axelrods were devastated.
In 2000, when Lauren was 19, she was hospitalized for an intense seizure. That's when doctors prescribed a promising new anti-convulsant drug, Keppra. After a few days, the seizures miraculously stopped. But David and Susan still worry about her future. What would she do when they were no longer around?
Check out FoxNews.com Tuesday to find out what the Axelrods did to ensure that Lauren would be taken care of in the future.