Thriving on Half a Brain

Left-Brained Artist

The best she can do is amazing. Three years ago, she graduated from high school with honors. It was a moment that had her parents bursting with pride.

"I cried buckets of tears. We beamed as parents. Oh, I just wanted to jump up and shout out to the world! Hey, a child with half of her brain made it! It was our greatest accomplishment," Cindy said.

Something else remarkable happened to Binder. She became something of an artist. One of her drawings was temporarily displayed in the Capitol.

Her artistic talent is particularly surprising, because doctors removed the part of her brain associated with creativity.

Binder's parents tried to help her in areas where they knew she'd struggle.

"Early on, after Brandi's surgery, we exposed her to the very things the doctor said that she would never be able to do. And by that, I mean they said she'd never do art. We enrolled her in art lessons. And over the years we saw her develop a love for art. … It just astonishes me what the human brain is capable of," Cindy said.

And so a girl with the creative side of her brain removed is now creative. She's developing a Web site with her sister that will not only document her incredible story but also display and sell her art. (You can check out Brandi's Web site here: www.brandibinder.com.)

Binder has come a long way, but she is not free of seizures. She may never be. Her seizures are relatively minor, but she still has them five to 20 times a day, each lasting up to 30 seconds at a time.

To control her seizures, she takes medications and sees a neurologist regularly.

Experts say she should expect to live a normal life span; they don't consider her seizures to be much of a risk.

Steve and Cindy aren't so sure. They seem to have become a bit more cautious and protective of their daughter. They worry about her falling, and so they keep her close to home.

There are now about 50 hemispherectomies, or removals of half of the brain, a year in this country. Binder's was one of the first, and "20/20's" initial report on her is often used as an educational tool in schools and hospitals.

Recently, she was invited to speak to students at a local college. It was another in a long line of proud moments for her parents, and an inspiring one for anyone who met her.

"She has just got an amazing attitude. She doesn't look at her disabilities as being disabilities. She just looks at what she can do," her mom said.

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