Community rallies behind Orange Beach kindergartner battling rare Polio-like illness
ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (WPMI) —
NBC 15 confirms that a kindergartner on the Gulf Coast has a case of the mystery disease similar to Polio called Acute Flaccid Myelitis, or AFM.
AFM is an extremely rare illness that primarily affects children, causing paralysis and even worse, there's no known cure.
Annadelle Faulkner hasn't spent the last few months in her Orange Beach home or at school.
Since her diagnosis in September, Annadelle has been battling the illness in hospitals across the state.
Neeli Faulkner, Annadelle's mother, said her 5-year-old daughter has always been very active.
"She's very athletic. She likes to snowboard. She likes to run and play. She does swim and gymnastics," said Faulkner.
But right now, Faulkner said it's often a struggle for the kindergartner just to move.
"For the past two weeks, she has been doing an in-patient rehab in Birmingham. She can't walk and she can't do most of the activities of daily living. But she's making progress. It's just very, very slow," Faulkner said.
The Faulkners noticed something was wrong when they picked Annadelle up from kindergarten at Orange Beach Elementary in September.
Chris Faulkner, Annadelle's father, said she had a loss of appetite and soon developed headaches as well as a fever and rash.
According to Faulkner, tests from urgent care centers came back negative.
But days later, Annadelle couldn't move her left arm and it just got worse.
"When we got up Monday morning, not only was her left arm not functioning, but she could not walk," said Chris Faulkner.
The Faulkners ended up at USA Children's and Women's Hospital.
Doctors initially thought Annadelle had Transverse Myelitis, a neurological disorder that affects the immune system and spinal cord.
However, the CDC later confirmed that Annadelle has AFM, a polio-like condition that primarily impacts children and causes respiratory issues and paralysis.
"My husband and I are very strong in our faith and that's the only thing that has gotten us through this. Seeing your child just get worse and worse and worse and you just can't help them," Neeli Faulkner said.
In the meantime, community members are showing their support by raising money online and at the Flora Bama to help with medical costs.
"We don't know how to express our gratitude for all the help," said Neeli Faulkner.
The Faulkner family says Annadelle will likely spend the next few weeks in rehab in Birmingham before heading back to Orange Beach for outpatient treatment.
If you'd like to help, you can do so by donating at the Flora Bama gift shop.