Woman Travels Across the Country for Brain Surgery At Lexington Medical Center

 What would make a young woman travel all the way from Vancouver, Washington, to West Columbia, South Carolina for brain surgery? Amelia Bussell decided that Jonathan A. Engh, MD, of the Lexington Medical Center Brain Tumor Program was the best doctor in the country to save her life. The 27-year-old woman came to that conclusion after months of research and consultations with numerous neurosurgeons. 

“I was 16 years old when I had a drop attack, which can be a symptom of a colloid cyst,” Amelia said. “I lost consciousness for about 30 seconds and, when I came to, I had stroke-like symptoms.” 

The next day, doctors performed a brain scan and diagnosed Amelia with a colloid cyst, a rare, benign tumor typically found near the center of the brain. There is no medicine or radiation for it. The only treatment is to remove it through surgery. 

At first, doctors recommended simply monitoring it. But over the years, Amelia’s symptoms worsened because the cyst was growing. 

“I started to have vision problems, balance issues, more headaches and migraines, and worsening fatigue.” 

Several neurosurgeons dismissed her case as not as important as a cancerous brain tumor. Some had never seen or treated a colloid cyst. 

A forensic scientist, Amelia wanted to be able to return to work and enjoy a good quality of life, so she started researching neurosurgeons and joined a support group on Facebook for people with colloid cysts. That’s when she learned about Dr. Engh at Lexington Medical Center. 

“I’ve done probably 100 colloid cyst removals during my career,” Dr. Engh said. “That’s a lot, considering how uncommon they are. And I’ve monitored even more.” 

Of all of the brain tumors diagnosed in the United States, less than 2 percent are colloid cysts. Compared with other surgeons, Dr. Engh has extensive expertise with them. 

“I have a love-hate relationship with this surgery,” Dr. Engh said. “It’s stressful surgery, but the patients can do very well; in fact, they can be cured. 

That’s exactly what Amelia wanted. 

“If it meant traveling across the United States, I was going to do it,” Amelia said. 

In January of 2019, Amelia flew nearly 3,000 miles to West Columbia for brain surgery with Dr. Engh. 

She found the Lexington Medical Center staff to be friendly and comforting throughout the entire process. 

“I remember going into the operating room and Dr. Engh was talking to me,” she said. “I woke up and felt great despite having brain surgery.” 

The operation was a success. Dr. Engh was able to remove the entire colloid cyst. Amelia was cured. Today, she has more energy and clarity of mind, and is able to pick life back up and enjoy it. 

“I think it’s important to research your doctor and ask critical questions. If you want the best outcomes, you need to seek out and go to the best doctor who is an expert in what you need to have done.” 


The Lexington Medical Center Brain Tumor Program, led by Dr. Engh, combines the expertise of talented specialists with the most advanced and effective treatment options to help patients achieve the best possible outcomes. 


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