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La Mesa couple makes gift in memory of late daughter, treated at UCLA


October 27, 2011 (La Mesa)--Thomas and Nadia Davies of La Mesa have committed $2 million to the UCLA Department of Neurosurgery in memory of their late daughter Alfonsina (Nina) Q. Davies and in honor of Dr. Paul Crandall, the UCLA neurosurgeon who ended her epileptic seizures.


Nadia Davies was named San Diego County Teacher of the Year in 1992. She and her husband later served on the Grossmont Union-High School Board through turbulent times.


Thomas sued the district and a court ordered the District to seat  him on the board. In 1998, Nadia resigned amid controversies, shortly before a recall election.


The Davies family invested more than a decade in seeking ways to stop the uncontrollable seizures that had assailed their daughter since birth. The neurologists they met offered only temporary solutions.


When the Davies arrived at UCLA in 1977, they consulted with Crandall. The founder of UCLA's first epilepsy surgery research program, Crandall had been developing experimental treatments since the early 1960s. He is now retired and a professor emeritus of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.


Crandall suggested an experimental surgery to control Nina's intractable epilepsy. At the time, few surgical programs for epilepsy existed in the U.S., and doctors were often reluctant to consider a surgical approach to treating the disease.


"Dr. Crandall's scientific knowledge and surgical skills saved our daughter's life," Nadia said. "We are eternally grateful for his lifelong study of surgical interventions to prevent epileptic seizures."


After her surgery, Nina completed college and realized her dream of becoming a teacher. She went on to earn a doctoral degree in education, eventually becoming assistant superintendent for the Santa Ana Unified School District. She helped many students with disabilities, both social and physical, relating firsthand to the difficulties they faced.


Sadly, in 2011, Nina died at 52 from what is known as sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (SUDEP), a rare outcome for those who suffer from the disease.


The Davieses have established the Alfonsina Q. Davies Endowed Chair in Honor of Paul Crandall, M.D., for Epilepsy Research to recognize Crandall's early research, which helped Nina and contributed to UCLA's reputation as a world leader in the surgical treatment of epilepsy.


"We are extremely grateful to the Davieses for their generosity and support," said Dr. Neil Martin, chairman of the UCLA Department of Neurosurgery.  For 20 consecutive years, the department has been ranked among the top 10 neurosurgery programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.


"This gift will pay tribute to Nina's life by benefiting other patients for generations," Martin concluded, "Hundreds of children and adults with epilepsy worldwide have been cured by physicians using the techniques and technologies developed at UCLA." 




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