New information is emerging about a third young patient who has been receiving treatment for the polio-like illness Acute Flaccid Myelitis at The Children's Center Rehabilitation Hospital in Bethany.
Mackenzie Lacher got to go home to Norman on Tuesday, though, and it comes just in time for a special birthday.
The gifts have already started coming in for Mackenzie. This weekend she turns six, but she is getting a head start on celebrating.
“She was pretty much in a coma for a couple of days,” her mother Mandi reveals, “so we weren’t really sure how much she would get better, and to see how much progress she has made is really awesome.”
Mandi and her husband Adam say about three weeks ago they thought their daughter just had a respiratory virus with flulike symptoms. By the time they got to the hospital, Mackenzie would not move or even respond to her name.
“It’s a weakness that’s associated with being kind of floppy, and that’s why they call it flaccid,” explains nurse practitioner Tami McMichael, who helped Mackenzie with physical therapy. “Just your arms and legs are really weak.”
Doctors at OU Children's Hospital infused Mackenzie's blood with antibodies to boost her immune system. Then she came to the Rehab Hospital in Bethany, where all three of Oklahoma's recent AFM patients have used memory games and exercises to rebuild their strength.
For some, the process takes months, but Mackenzie is making strides.
Researchers are still trying to pinpoint the cause of AFM, although they believe it comes from a combination of exposure to viruses and pre-existing autoimmune disorders. As they continue to study each case, there is one more happy ending to celebrate.
“We get to have a birthday party at home instead of in a hospital,” Mandi says, with Mackenzie nodding in agreement.
Doctors still emphasize that this is a rare illness, and that if your child does start showing signs of flulike symptoms, it is most likely just that.
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