Minnesota Family Searches Across the Country for Acute Flaccid Myelitis Treatment

October 25, 2018 10:31 PM

At least six Minnesota kids have come down with a rare, polio-like disease called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, since September. 

No one knows what causes AFM, but in many cases it starts as a virus. There is no known treatment for it either - it's simply case by case.


That means one Minnesota family is going coast to coast searching for possible treatments.

"We don't want to leave any stone unturned and try and find the best help we can get him," said Elaine Young, mother of 4-year-old Orville Young.

Orville was diagnosed with AFM in July. Several times a week he does physical and occupational therapy, trying to regain movement on the right side of his body.  But his mom is exploring other treatment options.

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Last month they consulted at Shriner's Hospital For Children in Philadelphia, next month they are off to Children's Hospital in Los Angeles.  Both trips are to consult on possible nerve transplant surgery that's been used in a handful of other AFM cases.  During a nerve transplant, doctors would transfer healthy nerves from an unaffected area of Orville's body to the paralyzed area of his right arm.

The chances of success are better when the surgery is performed within 8 to 12 months of diagnosis, before the nerve loses its connection to the muscle.

"If a nerve transfer surgery works, he could regain some function. Even 80 percent baseline would be amazing," Young said.


Ellen Galles

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