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36 donations

This fundraiser ended on 01/03/11

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Help the Valvo family raise money for the Care of Kathy Valvo who has brain damage suffered from pregnancy.

KATHY’S STORY

On August 22, 2009 while Kathy was 6 months pregnant she had a violent seizure. (Kathy never had a seizure in her life). She was rushed to Saint Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury and put in an induced coma to help stop the seizures. St. Mary’s did a CT scan and did not find any bleeding on the brain, in fact her scans looked normal. Since Kathy was now considered to be a high risk pregnancy they sent her to Yale New Haven Hospital. When Kathy was taken out of the coma the only complications she was experiencing was weakness on her right side. All brain functions were considered normal and the ultrasound of the baby was normal. After a few days of observation they decided Kathy was well enough to go home. They prescribed ant-seizure medications and also scheduled physical therapy to come to the home twice a week. The first night home Kathy was rushed back to the hospital complaining that she felt like she was going to die as her whole body and head hurt tremendously. She went back to St. Mary’s and they treated her for dehydration. She stayed over night and was released back home the next morning.

That evening when it was time to give Kathy her evening medication we could not wake her up. She was in a coma. We again rushed her to St. Mary’s Hospital and they did an MRI right away. After reading the results the Dr. said that Kathy had a major stroke on the left side of her brain. Again they rushed her back to Yale Hospital and she was put into the Neurological ICU. The Dr’s at Yale reread her MRI scan and determined that what Kathy had was not a stroke but some type of inflammation on her brain. They immediately started doing a bunch of tests on Kathy and the baby to see if there was any type of virus or infection running through her body. A couple days later the team of Neurologist and Dr’s from the Neonatal unit called a family meeting to discuss Kathy’s prognosis. (She was still in a coma on a respirator and hooked up to an EEG monitoring machine to check her brain activity). The head Neurologist mentioned that Kathy only had a 5% chance of survival and if she did survive they did not know if she was going to be in a vegetative state or not. They mentioned again that it looked as if the whole left side of her brain was “gone”. The family and I had to go over alternative measures for the baby. We could either do a premature delivery and hope the baby survived or let Kathy as they said “be a human incubator” to bring the baby as close to full term as possible. It was decided to let Kathy carry our baby as close to full term as possible. In the mean time Kathy had a brain and muscle biopsy along with other blood tests to test for any forms of diseases that may have attacked her brain.

Miraculously, a few days after our family meeting Kathy started showing signs that she was coming out of her coma. She began to move her lips and head. Through out the week Kathy was showing more signs of movement and consciousness. Another MRI was performed and they noticed the white matter on her brain was starting to subside. Soon after that Kathy was taken off the respirator and started to drink. The effects of the brain injury were starting to show up at this time. Kathy was still having seizures had minimal movement on her right side, she would say words that did not make any sense and she had very bad memory loss along with aphasia. Aphasia is defined as partial or total loss of the ability to articulate ideas or comprehend spoken or written language, resulting from damage to the brain. The results of the brain and muscle biopsy came back and showed nothing abnormal. The other test results showed nothing unusual as well so they could not give us any diagnosis of what was going on. They also reassured the family that our baby was still doing well and that none of the medications were having an ill effect on him.
By the end of September, Kathy was moved out of ICU and into the neurological step down unit. During Kathy’s stay in the step down unit she was still showing signs of improvement but was still having seizures as the seizure medication was being adjusted. By the first week of October Kathy was showing signs of stress from the pregnancy. She was starting to loose a great amount of weight and the seizures started to become more frequent. So on October 18th the Dr’s decided to do a C-section and delivered our health baby boy Marc Anthony. The only complications Marc showed was some withdrawal symptoms from the medications Kathy was on but besides that he was a normal baby.

On October 30 Kathy and baby Marc were moved to St. Vincent’s Medical Center to start speech and physical therapy. The staff was concerned about Kathy’s weight so they decided to insert a supplemental feeding tube in her stomach. Because of the high dosage of seizure medications Kathy was on and the heavy side effects the medication caused, her ability to participate in physical therapy was limited, but she slowly began to adjust to the strict schedule and was making improvements.

On December 25th Christmas day Kathy and Marc were released home from the hospital. Kathy started a weekly regiment of speech and physical therapy and then outpatient therapy. During Kathy’s stay at home she was sent back to the hospital at least 3 times to get evaluated for seizure activity. To this day we do not have a diagnosis of what caused of Kathy’s illness. We are waiting on some advanced DNA testing results to come back. The DNA testing may indicate some type underlying disease.

Kathy still suffers from seizures, aphasia and cognitive difficulties. She also has limited walking abilities due to balance issues. Because of these ongoing issues Kathy needs to have someone with her at all times and needs to be supervised around the baby.
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