Baylor Health Care System Foundation

Patient Stories


Advanced Neurosurgery

Mary Catherine Heath doesn’t take anything for granted anymore. Not since experiencing the malformation in her brain that was blinding her and threatened her life. It started when she was studying arts performance in college and severe headaches and vision problems were interfering with school. Doctor after doctor got it wrong. She was turned away, misdiagnosed and referred to a psychiatrist. Finally, a doctor suggested she get an angiogram to get a clear image of her brain. It revealed a massive AVM, a tangle of poorly formed vessels connecting the veins and arteries. She was told there was only one place to go: Baylor.

Things were dramatically different at Baylor. The medical staff listened to her, believed her and promised to do what no previous doctor would do – treat her. A team of neuroscience specialists, led by Dr. Joseph Hise, decided to shrink the AVM and ultimately take it out. Her treatment would require several highly complex procedures. But Mary Catherine trusted her medical team. The fact that they knew more than any previous doctor was comforting.

It was the AVM that was causing her headaches and, by pushing against her optic nerve, taking her eyesight. Left alone, it could have caused a rupture that would lead to a stroke. Mary Catherine was fortunate to be at the Baylor Neuroscience Center, where interventional radiology, neurosurgery and radiosurgery are all in one place. A multi-pronged approach shrank the AVM to allow surgeons to remove the mass with fewer complications.

Today, Mary Catherine is symptom-free. She graduated in 2008 with a degree in liberal arts performance and looks forward to experiencing all the richness life in the theater, and life itself, can offer. The one thing she won’t be doing is taking anything for granted.

More Patient Stories


Your contribution to Campaign 2015 can help Baylor Make Us All Better. Please give online or call 214-820-3136 to discuss your gift today.

Read More


Our neuroscience center has already made its mark in the Southwest.