Aaron's Story
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A Love of Life
Article from: Herald Sun

AT 17, Aaron Purnell had to choose between death and an operation that would leave him disabled.

Mr. Purnell had a rare neurological condition, Rasmussen's encephalitis, which caused 200 seizures a day.

The seizures became life-threatening and he twice ended up in a medically induced coma.

The operation, a hemispherectomy, disconnects the affected side of the brain, causing loss of vision, movement and some intellectual disability.

Mr. Purnell had surgery in 1998 and spent 12 months in hospital after his brain became infected.

He had to learn how to walk again, regain some use of his arm and deal with having 50 per cent vision.

Never one to give up, M.r Purnell has slowly but surely made a life for himself.

He finished school, studied photography at TAFE and works as a disability officer with Whitehorse Council.

Mr. Purnell is able to walk with a limp and also attends camps for children with acquired brain injury.

"I love working with the kids. They're awesome," he said. "They know that I'm one of them."

Mr. Purnell, now 26, achieved another milestone last November when he moved into his own Briar Hill unit.

"I don't see myself as courageous or brave," he said.

"I figured life with a disability had to be better than what I had. Back then I had no chance of . . . any kind of life.

"(Now) I have my good days where I can work from sun-up till sundown, just non-stop. And then I have days . . . where I'm just buggered."

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Aaron's Story