After an accident as a teenager, he developed the disorder. He then studied the brain to better understand his own seizures, and now plans to sail around the world to show others with the condition how to push their limits.
By Ashley Yeager | The Scientist
On a sunny day in southern England in the 1970s, Phil Haydon and his friend were riding bikes home from school, excited to start their summer break. Suddenly, another classmate picked up half a brick and threw it. The projectile hit Haydon, then 15, in the forehead. Stunned, he tried to stand, but wavered. Blood covered his face and trickled down to stain the pavement, yet somehow he managed to get back on his bike and ride back to school, where someone called an ambulance that took him to the local hospital. Doctors there quickly transferred him to another hospital in Oxford, about 30 miles away.
Within an hour or two, Haydon started having seizures. He would lose consciousness, and his body would convulse. His doctors rushed him into surgery where they removed an inch-and-a-half-long shard of brick from his forehead. Afterward, they put him on sedatives to control the seizures, and gradually he recovered. He even returned to school a few weeks later when classes resumed. His memory was terrible, he recalls, but his father told the school not to give his son an inch—to push him to do all of his classwork. “It was the best advice he could have given them,” Haydon says.