Alison’s Story

Franciscan Hospital for Children has been a part Alison’s life for nearly a decade.

She was born a normal, healthy baby in 1995, and in time, learned to crawl, and do everything else normal, healthy babies do. Then, in 1996, when Alison was just 11 months old, something unexpected happened.

During dinner one night, Alison became limp, and fell over in her high chair, completely unresponsive. She was immediately rushed to the hospital, where tests revealed that she had contracted a virus called Viral Myelopathy, which had landed on her spinal cord and paralyzed her left side. Doctors didn’t know if she would ever be able to walk, or have any use of her left side again.

Doctors didn’t know if she would ever be able to walk, or have any use of her left side again.

After tests, prayers, and time, Alison was indeed able to learn to move again, but the virus had done its damage; her muscle tone was abnormally high, and her tightened muscles made it difficult to walk and move her left side.

Alison’s mother soon became known as a “doctor shopper,” constantly escorting Alison to more and more doctors to solicit more and more opinions. She started at UMass Memorial in Worcester, MA, where they put Alison in orthotics to help her walk. After nine years, the hospital had done all it could for a patient of her young age, and Alison’s mother needed to shop again. She took Alison to Shriners Hospital for a consult, but left without hearing any new ideas for Alison’s treatment.

One night, Alison’s mother saw a news clip regarding a young boy who attended Franciscan Hospital for Children, and the miracle they performed for him there. After further research, she requested an evaluation. Meanwhile, Alison’s left leg had tightened to a 90-degree angle at the knee.

After examining Alison, the doctors at Franciscan Hospital for Children immediately formulated a comprehensive plan for her. The decision, ultimately, was to place a Baclofen pump in Alison’s stomach, which would pump a muscle relaxing medicine right down Alison’s spinal cord and into her legs, alleviating her muscle tightness.

The procedure was a complete success, and Alison was overjoyed that she wouldn’t have to sacrifice any of the things she wanted to do, which, to a 13 year old girl who had already given up basketball and cheerleading, sounded amazing. The cost of the gift of being able to walk was little more than a simple injection to refill the pump once every six months, which Alison has been doing for three and half years now.

After nearly a decade of doctor shopping, of bouncing from hospital to hospital looking for answers, the pain in Alison’s legs has been cut substantially, and she is finally able to walk comfortably, and with good posture. In Alison’s words, “Because of the doctors at Franciscan Hospital for Children, their immense medical knowledge, and their willingness to fight for the rights of children to live happy lives, I am able with a to lead an almost normal life, and for this I want to give back. They helped me so much and every time I go there I witness the miracles in action of the other patients there.”

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