6-Year Old Girl's Illness From 'Cold-Like' Virus Caused Paralysis

She's a little girl who loves arts and crafts and listening to music.  There is so much she could do, but now, she is fighting for her life. Poppy Smith, a six-year-old girl from Gullane in East Lothian, had cold-like symptoms in September, and her parents thought the virus would clear in a day or two.  Unfortunately, it led to something worse - swelling on her spinal cord and painful nerve damage throughout her body.

She Is The Second Person In Scotland To Experience The Illness

Doctors at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh initially tested Poppy for meningitis, a stroke and a brain tumour, because she lost her ability to swallow and move her right arm just 24 hours after she had the cold-like symptoms.  The MRI came back clear.  However, her breathing deteriorated and she developed pneumonia before being sedated and ventilated.  A scan on her spinal cord and other tests revealed that Poppy was suffering from the paralysing condition called acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), which doctors believe has been caused by a rare reaction to the virus, and which has no treatment or cure.  She is just one of the two people in Scotland to have been struck down with the terrifying reaction.

Doctors Can't Tell Much About The Disease Because It's Rare And New

Poppy's mom, Laura, said her daughter is frustrated by losing her ability to talk, which is further hampered by the paralysis of some facial muscles.  Doctors can't tell much about the disease because it's very rare.  "One of the most difficult things for us is that from the beginning, the doctors have been fantastic but they have been very open about the fact they just don't know the answers to ours questions. There's not much they can tell us about her prognosis or the long term because it's so new," Laura said.

Poppy's Family Seeks Help From Kind-hearted People

Family and friends are raising funds to help support Poppy's future medical needs including the purchase of a special machine to help her 'talk'.  They hope to take advantage of "eye gaze technology" which will allow Poppy to use her eyes in the same way a computer mouse works to select different options.  To donate, just visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/teampoppy.

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