Life-changing procedure for Gabriella Sable ’23 gives hope to students suffering from epilepsy

After a successful removal of a lesion on her brain, Sable has been seizure-free for nearly two years. Now, she shares her journey in hopes to be an advocate for those still dealing with the neurological disorder.

Gabriella Sable ‘23 spent 10 days in Peru during the fall 2021 semester studying in the Adventure and Wilderness therapy course. Hiking the Inca Trail to one of the modern Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu, was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that Sable is grateful to have had.

It was an opportunity as an Elon student that she may missed had it not been for the innovative work from a medical team at the Cleveland Clinic that removed a microscopic lesion from her left frontal lobe. The procedure has essentially cured her of an eight-year battle with epilepsy.

Since her life-changing procedure, her story has been featured by The Cleveland Clinic and she’s talked about her journey with local media outlets.

“I don’t know if I’m an inspiration, but I feel like I can help other people to know that there is this opportunity for other people who have epilepsy,” Sable said. “Hopefully, they get the same kind of seizure freedom that I now have.”

To combat her epilepsy, the Cleveland Clinic Neurological Institute used the 7 Tesla MRI, one of the strongest machines of its kind, and other standard-level MRIs to pinpoint the location of the lesion. With the lesion being one of the tiniest the Cleveland Clinic had ever seen, they were able to remove it with a robotic laser – versus more traditional and intrusive methods.

“It was kind of a surprise when they found the lesion because I’ve had numerous MRIs and they hadn’t been able to find it,” Sable said, a political science and journalism major.

Sable said the actual procedure took only about two hours, and her recovery took almost no time at all. “I was able to do whatever I wanted after that pretty much,” Sable said.

Sable during a study abroad trip to Peru in November 2021 for the Adventure and Wilderness Therapy course.

Since the removal of the lesion 17 months ago, Sable has been seizure-free. And thanks to the doctors who helped her through that time – Dr. Ella Pestana Knight, her neurologist, and Dr. William Bingaman, the neurosurgeon who did the surgery – Sable was to experience some things which had been foreign to her for more than eight years.

“I was able to go to another country … I was able to work at a sleepaway camp, now I’m working on getting my driver’s license,” she said.

With two summer internships already lined up – one with Oigetit, a fake news filter where Sable will produce breaking news content, and the other with Lionox Master Company, an investment company, where she will write news stories in addition to creating videos and podcasts on different issues – Sable is excited to get a jump start on her career.

“Postgrad, I want to become a political analyst on television. I have always been passionate about politics and I also am a news junkie so being able to talk about it as a job would truly be the perfect blend of my two passions,” the political science and journalism double major said.

As miraculous as her story is, Sable is not resting on the miracle that was granted to her. She is focused on how she can be an advocate for others struggling with epilepsy. In her journey with the neurological disorder, Sable said she had trouble sharing her diagnosis with others. Now, she wants to let as many people as possible know that epilepsy is nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to ostracize anyone for.