Ashlie has always been a vivacious child with an incredible appetite for dance… tap, ballet and jazz! Not to mention, she’s a girl with a personality that doesn’t stop!!! Despite the demands of three younger sisters, she is always a delight…very helpful and kind to all
On Friday evening, June 26th, Ashlie came bounding down the stairs and said to her mom that her legs hurt. We thought maybe it was growing pains. The next morning, Shawna called me and said that Ashlie could no longer bear her own weight or walk down the stairs on her own and that she was taking her to the local ER. By the afternoon, no diagnosis had been made and she wasn’t getting any better. By that evening, she was losing control in her arms as well. At that point, we knew this was serious. I stayed with Ashlie’s three younger sisters while Shawna rushed her to the Loma Linda ER.
Ashlie was seen within two hours of arrival and a diagnosis was given almost immediately: Guillain-Barr Syndrome (GBS). This is a rare nervous system disorder where the auto-immune system creates too many antibodies, attacking the nervous system causing paralysis. This is usually caused by a bad reaction to an immunization (Ashlie did have the Gardisil immunization to prevent cervical cancer about two weeks before the onset of the syndrome) or a bad reaction to a viral infection (Ashlie had not been sick). There is no known cure for GBS. All that can be done is treatment for the symptoms and a lot of physical therapy once the patient is able to participate.
Ashlie’s paralysis began on Saturday and by Wednesday night, she was in the highest level of ICU on an intubator, since the paralysis had gone into her respiratory system. She has remained in critical condition in the pediatric ICU at Loma Linda University Medical Center ever since. She was sedated at all times for the first two weeks while undergoing various tests such as MRI’s, respiratory therapy 3-4 times per day, as well as immune globulin treatments and plasmapheresis, to clean her blood.
At this point, Ashlie is done with the majority of these treatments and is showing improvements each day. The doctors are striving to get her breathing on her own again and are reducing the number of breaths that the machines are giving her when they can. Her sedation has been lifted, her eyes are open and she is communicating with her parents by trying to speak through her breathing tube. Ashlie is now only receiving 8 automated breaths per minute, and is doing the rest of her breaths on her own! Great news! However, Ashlie still cannot walk or move most of her body voluntarily.
Unfortunately the family has been devastated by the enormous amount of debt due to costs not covered by the insurance. These mounting costs will be putting a serious strain on the families finances, considering the rest of the bills that they still have to pay, plus any other costs incurred from tests and therapies not covered by insurance.
Anyone who would like to help with Ashlie’s mounting medical bills are welcome to send donations to “Children Without Faces.”
Shawna and Mark are a great Christian couple with five girls… the oldest is starting online junior college this year at 17, Ashlie is 13 and the three little ones are 8, 5, and 2. There have been some dark days in the past month… but their faith in Jesus Christ is what has brought them through to this point.
Ashlie returned home August 31, 2009. She is doing amazingly well and continues to receive in home physical and occupational therapies from Rim of the World Home Health Inc. Ashlie will most likely be returning to Loma Linda University to continue on extended therapies. She is walking on her own although she is still very weak. Her diagnosis is positive and we hope she will be back to “normal” in 6 month to a year.
Thank you to everyone for your prayers and support!
Sincerely Children Without Faces