AUGUSTA, Ga. – Halloween 2012 wasn’t scary for the Saunders family of Evans, but the days that followed were. Alexander Saunders, then age 2, was a bit lethargic when he awoke on Nov. 1, and he began running a low-grade fever.
“He was a little fussy, which was unusual for him,” said his mother Ashley Saunders, “and he couldn’t stand up on his own from a sitting or lying position.” Alexander began to experience limited use of his left arm, and by the night of Nov. 2, he couldn’t use either arm.
“It’s a parent’s worst nightmare,” said Tom Saunders. “Our child was really sick and getting weaker by the minute, and we didn’t know what was causing it.”
Alexander’s pediatricians sent the family to Children’s Hospital of Georgia, where specialists ran numerous tests, and Pediatric Neurologist Dr. Elizabeth Sekul made the diagnosis.
“Alexander had acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, a brief but widespread attack of inflammation in the brain and spinal cord that damages myelin – the protective covering of nerve fibers,” said Sekul. “ADEM is rare, so it’s not something we would routinely test for. Fortunately, we were able to rule out other possibilities and quickly administer medications to stop the attack and minimize the damage.”
Now 3, Alexander has physical and occupational therapy twice a week at CHOG and once a week at the Family Y pool as he works to regain full use of both arms.
“He’s come a long way,” said Ashley Saunders.
You can watch Alexander’s story and other patient stories during the 2013 Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Celebration, a telethon that will broadcast live from the CHOG lobby from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, June 2 on WRDW-TV News 12. This special event celebrates the funds raised this year by partners and donors to benefit programs and services at CHOG, the area’s only children’s hospital.
The broadcast will include video tours of the hospital; conversations with patients, donors and staff; and recognition of committed partners and supporters. Viewers also will get a first-hand look at the specialized care found only at CHOG.
In addition, hospital staff, local volunteers and celebrities from News 12 will man the WOW-provided phone bank, accepting donations for the hospital during the fundraiser. The one-day telethon brought in about $17,500 in donations last year. For more information on the broadcast, visit wrdw.com/community/cmn.
To make a donation to the Children’s Hospital, call 706-922-5437 (KIDS) or toll free at 866-412-5437 (KIDS), or visit giving.gru.edu/telethon.
A total of about $787,400 in Children’s Miracle Network funds was raised in 2012 for the not-for-profit CHOG, which has been a beneficiary of CMN since 1986. Donations have helped fund the many resources needed to enhance and maintain the quality of care children receive – from the smallest bandage to the most precise surgical instrument.
The 154-bed Children’s Hospital of Georgia is the second-largest children’s hospital in the state, providing the highest level of pediatric critical care and neonatal intensive care as well as a wide range of general and complex health care for children.
About Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals
Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals® raises funds for 170 children’s hospitals across the United States and Canada, which, in turn, use the money where it’s needed the most. When a donation is given it stays in the community, helping local kids. Since 1983, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals has raised more than $4.7 billion, most of it $1 at a time. These donations have gone to support research and training, purchase equipment, and pay for uncompensated care, all in support of the mission to save and improve the lives of as many children as possible. Learn more at CMNHospitals.org.