James Franklin

james franklin image
James Franklin, Indianapolis

James Franklin Jr., 17, of Indianapolis has a quiet personality but a big presence on the basketball court as a junior guard for Cathedral High School. “If people who see him play knew what he had to go through, they’d appreciate him even more,” his mother Tamieka says. “I’ve never seen anyone fight like he fought.”


Since the seventh grade, James had lived with not only seizures, but also the side effects of nine different medicines that did little to control them. “Other hospitals had no answers for us,” Tamieka says. Then, the family “accidentally” found the surgical epilepsy program at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health. 

When James had a seizure during a game in January 2017, his dad James Franklin Sr. directed paramedics to transport him to Riley. His son’s medical care would change direction with that quick decision and the family’s meeting with Riley Pediatric Neurologist Kelly Kremer, M.D. “Riley wasn’t going to stop until they got to the bottom of what was going on with James,” Tamieka says. James underwent extensive testing to determine what part of his brain was causing his seizures.


Riley Pediatric Neurosurgeon Jodi Smith, M.D., removed that portion of his brain in August 2017. Two weeks later, James was seizure-free and back at practice. He was cleared for full-contact play after just one month, his excellent motor skills intact.

About three-quarters of children with epilepsy respond to drugs or outgrow their seizures, Dr. Smith says. Surgery can help some of the rest, but their physicians and parents might not know it’s an option. Neurologists too often consider epilepsy surgery a last resort, adds Riley Pediatric Neurologist Lisa Smith, M.D. Riley is trying to change that thinking in Indiana. For some patients, surgery prevents reliance on powerful drugs or further damage to the brain.

Riley’s growing program has three surgical epileptologists in the neurology department. The new co-director of the surgical epilepsy program, Jeffrey Raskin, M.D., focuses on laser therapy to treat seizures. Their expertise, along with new techniques and technologies, allows Riley to treat the most complex patients, Dr. Jodi Smith says. She and others at Riley also have contributed to research in the field. “We want to make things better for our patients, and usually we do,” she says.

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