Youngest AFM Patient On Record Heads Home In Oklahoma
BETHANY, Oklahoma - The youngest child on record to contract the rare polio-like illness Acute Flaccid Myelitis is on the road to recovery, and now also on the way home.
Nine-month-old Opal Trimble and her family are overcoming expectations at the Children's Center in Bethany.
Opal has been in rehab since April, after receiving the diagnosis in February. Both her care team and family agree the secret to her recovery was faith.
Opal looks almost normal, minus a few tubes here and there. It is a very different scene than February, when the daycare called her mother Gretchen.
She described, “It was almost a dead weight in my hands, and I remember just starting to cry there.”
Doctors struggled to find a diagnosis.
“For a few days, we weren’t sure what was wrong with Opal,” Gretchen said.
They finally discovered she had AFM. Her spinal cord was injured and she could barely move below the neck. It was a test of her parents' faith in God.
Opal’s dad Josh said, “I was on the cusp, right there, of deciding either you with me, or you’re not with me.”
“When she admitted here, Opal couldn’t even hold up her head,” recalled the rehab hospital’s pediatric nurse practitioner Tami McMichael.
Rehab has not been easy, and the Shawnee family has spent every day anxiously watching their baby girl's progress.
“What a blessing it was and is to our family that the Children’s Center so happens to be right here in Oklahoma,” Gretchen said.
The location allowed the Trimbles to care for both Opal and their two older children at home. But the rehab team admitted the biggest challenge was the unknown.
“This is a different beast,” McMichael said, “and all that I know is the experience that I’ve had with other spinal cord injuries to bring to the table.”
They are using electronic stimulation for her muscles and music therapy for her brain. Josh compares this faith experience to the 23rd Psalm.
“In order for there to be a shadow that’s cast, there has to be a light that is present,” Josh said of his walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
Opal is now moving from head to toe, and her nurses agree the best rehab now will happen at home.
“This is just the beginning for Opal,” her father said. “This is just the beginning for our family.”
You can continue to follow Opal’s progress on the Opal’s Fight Facebook group, which aims to inspire the world to never lose hope.