Harrison Ford Opens Up About His Daughter’s Epilepsy: ‘She’s My Hero’

Harrison Ford revealed on Monday that his daughter is suffering from epilepsy at an event in support of epilepsy research in New York, ET reports.

The Star Wars actor made the announcement at the NYU Langone Medical Center’s Find a Cure for Epilepsy and Seizures (FACES) gala. Later in the evening at Pier 60 at Chelsea Piers, an emotional Ford recounted the struggles he and his family had suffered from the first time his daughter had her first seizure.

“When you have a loved one who suffers from this disease, it can be devastating,” Ford told the New York Daily News. “You know how it affects their lives, their future, their opportunities and you want desperately to find mitigation. You want to find a way that they can live a comfortable and effective life.”

Georgia, 27, is Harrison Ford’s daughter with his second wife, the late screenwriter Melissa Mathison. Georgia had her first epileptic seizure during a sleepover when she was a child. After the incident, Georgia received medication for acute migraines.

Years later, Harrison Ford’s daughter had another big seizure at a beach in Malibu. Georgia could have potentially drowned if not for a Hollywood director who found her.

“A few years later she had another big one, this one on a beach in Malibu, where a Hollywood director found her, luckily,” said Harrison during his tearful speech. “I said to myself this is Los Angeles, we have some of the best doctors in the world, they must know what’s wrong with her. But nothing was diagnosed as epilepsy.”

Georgia suffered another epileptic seizure again, this time while studying in London. It was at this time that Harrison and his family decided to get another doctor’s opinion. They consulted Dr. Orrin Devinsky of NYU, who finally gave Georgia the right diagnosis.

Fighting back tears, Harrison said, “Dr. [Devinsky], who is a dear friend, made the diagnosis: epilepsy. He prescribed the right medication and therapy; she has not had a seizure in eight years.”

Harrison Ford told the New York Daily News that his daughter Georgia is one of his biggest inspirations.

“She [Georgia] is joining me to thank FACES. I admire a lot of things about her,” Harrison said. “I admire her perseverance, her talent, her strength. She’s my hero. I love her.”

Harrison Ford with wife Calista Flockhart and daughter Georgia on the red carpet at the 'Paranoia' premiere. (Photo by Jason Kempin)
Harrison Ford with wife Calista Flockhart and daughter Georgia on the red carpet at the ‘Paranoia’ premiere.
[Photo by Jason Kempin]

Harrison added that Dr. Orrin Devinsky and FACES “have been a great service to my family. I am grateful for that. So I’m happy to be here.”

Harrison Ford opened up about how epilepsy affected his family in 2010 at the premiere of his film Morning Glory.

“There’s a history of epilepsy in my family and I’m really aware of what a devastating affliction it can be. It not only affects the person who suffers from epilepsy but it affects their entire family.”

FACES, in collaboration with NYU Langone Medical Center and its Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, funds research to improve epilepsy treatment, advance new therapies, and maintain communities that support those who are suffering from epilepsy.

Dr. Orrin Devinsky, who is also the founder of FACES, has been doing extensive research to find a cure for epilepsy for years. In 2005, Dr. Devinsky was interviewed by Medscape, in which he talked at length about epilepsy, its nature, the proper treatment procedures to alleviate its symptoms, and the right ways to educate the public about it.

“People think of epilepsy as ‘having seizures.’ However, for most patients, the disorder extends far beyond the seizures, which are often intermittent and brief. The disorder continues to carry a significant stigma. Sometimes when parents find out that their child’s friend has epilepsy, they won’t let their child socialize with that friend. So the condition can be isolating. In other cases, teachers or the police may have outdated misconceptions about epilepsy that lead them to socially or even physically endanger children and adults with epilepsy. Therefore, as much as we can, f.a.c.e.s. seeks to educate the public about epilepsy and to advance social and other programs to improve the quality of life for all those with epilepsy.”

[Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]