A Caldwell woman thrives years after surgery removes half her brain

Melinda Baez has volunteered at West Valley Medical Center for 10 years in honor of the doctors that saved her life.

Her voice is synonymous with the recurring sound of automatic sliding glass doors to the busy staff shuffling in and out of West Valley Medical Center (WVMC).

Melinda Baez has volunteered at the front desk for a decade offering a greeting to each and every person as they pass. She does it with a smile.

"Because I'm trying to pay the doctors and the nurses back for what they did to me," Baez said. "I had to have [the surgery] done in Portland Oregon. They had to take 90 percent of [the right side of] my brain out."

Baez graduated from Caldwell High School in 2007; KTVB reported the event with her family. She was born a healthy baby, but by age four she started having seizures, and was diagnosed with epilepsy. Her family was told she'd get better, but she didn't.

As time passed, Baez was unable to talk or eat. She had the surgery in 1993 at Doernbecher Children's Hospital.

"I was on the cart, the ones you put the groceries in. And at that time, they were really high. They were telling me not to jump on it, because I was gonna fall. I wouldn't listen. I fell and hit my head really bad, really bad," Baez said. "After that, that's when I started getting my seizures."

Baez has the one of - if not the - highest attendance of any volunteer at WVMC, according to the hospital's Volunteer Coordinator Lorene Oates.

"Melinda is really much very much an overcomer and achiever," Oates said. "I just completed my 10th year [with WVMC] and she's on to her 10 years. I said, 'How long you gonna work here?' And she said, 'Until about 100.' I'm like, Okay, I might not be here then, but you can!"

Since the surgery, Baez does not have seizures; in fact, she tells KTVB she only 'spaces out' from time to time. Baez lives with her family who makes her volunteering possible, they drive her to-and-from her volunteer shifts, according to Oates.

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