In 2013, Lisa Cotton’s daughter, Vivian, was born prematurely at 27 weeks. The premature birth and resultant brain trauma caused Vivian to develop hydrocephalus, which required the surgical implantation of a shunt.
As a side effect of Vivian’s brain trauma and her shunt-treated hydrocephalus, Vivian developed epilepsy.
The Cottons sought out a variety of treatments and medications to control Vivian’s seizures. Vivian did experience some success in the two months she was on the ketogenic diet. Her seizures almost disappeared on the diet. Unfortunately, Vivian developed pancreatitis and complications with her shunt, requiring more surgery, and forcing her to discontinue the diet. Vivian’s seizures returned, and she spent three months in and out of the ICU before passing away at 18 months of age.
After Vivian’s passing, Lisa and her husband Michael vowed to continue fighting for a cure and devoted themselves to helping families struggling with epilepsy. They established the 2016 Vivian L. Cotton Innovator Award for Dr. Akiko Nishyama, as well as The Vivian L. Cotton Pediatric Epilepsy Patient and Family Support Fund. The fund facilitates parent education, ketogenic diet support, technology innovation, and other care and clinical opportunities.
Lisa earned a Certificate in Early Childcare Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Extension. Lisa, Michael, and their children live in Chicago, Illinois.