Ch. 15 morning anchor "OK" after on-air seizure

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Posted by on November 27, 2009 at 22:38:30:

In Reply to: NBC 15 Morning show posted by Waterboy on November 27, 2009 at 21:53:32:

Ch. 15 morning anchor OK after on-air seizure
By Mary Spicuzza |

Viewers of WMTV-TV (Ch. 15) were shocked to see anchor Sarah Carlson have a seizure during the morning newscast Wednesday, when she fell into another anchor's arms before being rushed to the hospital.

"As many of you know, I've been very open about the fact that I have epilepsy," she said in a statement. "Today, I had a seizure that was more intense than usual, and was taken to the hospital. I've seen my doctor and he says I appear to be doing well."

Carlson's seizure occurred in the middle of the morning show, shortly before 7 a.m. NBC 15 News Director Chris Gegg said co-anchor Christine Bellport was on-screen reading a news story during the incident, but Carlson was sitting off-screen on her right. Viewers reported hearing a noise off-screen then watching as Carlson slumped into Bellport's arms. The station quickly went to a commercial break.

On Wednesday night, Carlson said she'd been diagnosed with epilepsy about a year ago but previously experienced relatively minor episodes until the grand mal seizure she had during the newscast. She doesn't remember what happened on-air. "The next thing I remember, I was in an ambulance being asked questions by the paramedics," she said. "They were asking simple questions, but I couldn't answer most of them."

Carlson, who was in the emergency room until about noon Wednesday, said she can't drive for three months.

Gegg said the station has been flooded with e-mails, Facebook messages and telephone calls. "We were just overwhelmed with support from our viewers," he said.

Gegg declined to provide footage of the incident, citing privacy concerns.

Carlson joined the Morning Show on NBC 15 in November 2006 and also serves as the station's health reporter, and is on the board of directors for the Epilepsy Foundation of Southern Wisconsin.

Art Taggart, the foundation's executive director, said Carlson has helped educate people about epilepsy with her news reports and blog posts about the disorder. He estimated that about 55,000 people in Wisconsin have epilepsy.

Others working to raise awareness about epilepsy applauded Carlson and others affected by the disorder, directly and indirectly, for publicly talking about it.

"I think the more that we talk about it, the more we bring it out of the shadows, the more we can dispel some of those myths and start talking about a cure," said University of Wisconsin System spokesman Dave Giroux, whose 14-year-old daughter has epilepsy.

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