West Bay

East Greenwich boy fighting back against rare disease

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) —  A little boy fighting a rare disease is making improvements and regaining the use of some of his limbs at Hasbro Children's Hospital after suddenly losing control of his body in September.

Isaiah Hazard, a 5-year-old boy from East Greenwich, was diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) after his parents say he first presented with cold symptoms, then suddenly couldn't walk or hold up his head and limbs.

"He woke up saying, 'Mommy I can't sit up, Mommy I can't lift my arm,'" his mother Erika Thompson recalled. "He just kind of flops over, his body was just like limp."

Isaiah's case is only the second case of AFM confirmed in Rhode Island, according to Department of Health spokesperson Joseph Wendelken. The first case was in 2016. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there have been 62 cases in the U.S. this year, and the majority of cases are children.

Symptoms can include sudden weakness, paralysis, facial drooping, difficult swallowing or slurred speech, Wendelken said.

The exact cause of AFM is still a mystery, though the CDC says some patients have tested positive for enterovirus. Isaiah's parents says he, too, tested positive for that virus. While the disease has polio-like symptoms, the CDC says no confirmed AFM patients have tested positive for polio.

"I don't understand where it came from or how he got it," Thompson said. "He was doing everything like every other kid was. Playground, football, school...it was nothing different than any other kid. So why him?"

"I'll never understand why," Isaiah's father Trevor Hazard said. "Isaiah's a fighter, and he's going to do everything he possibly can and everyone here is doing everything they possibly can."

Two surgeries later and a lot of physical and occupational therapy, Isaiah is slowly regaining the use of his legs and body. He's been at Hasbro for more than 45 days, and his parents plan to move him to Franciscan Children's Rehabilitation Center in Brighton, Mass., to continue his recovery.

Members of the community have donated more than $10,000 to the family to help with medical expenses, and a fundraiser is planned for November 15 at Finn's Harborside in East Greenwich.

"You come into this situation and you feel so alone," Thompson said. "To see so many people reach out to support us and pray for us, it's pretty amazing."

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