Two days after Ben and his family spent time with friends camping and fishing, he started vomiting. When he wasn’t getting better after three days, had stopped eating, and hadn’t peed since the night before, his mom took him to Emergency at the Alberta Children’s Hospital about 6 a.m. By 3 pm. he was in surgery for tubes to receive peritoneal dialysis. Bloodwork had revealed his kidneys were shutting down. He started dialysis but later that night something even more frightening began to happen – Ben started losing neurological function after what doctors thought might be seizures. His reflexes became weak and he seemed sedated, terrifying his parents Rebekah and Dominque. He was sent for an MRI, CT scan and EEG to examine his brain function and a lumbar puncture.
Thankfully that day they met Pediatric Nephrologist Dr. Silviu Grisaru, who studies Hemolytic uremic syndrome or HUS – a disease caused by gastrointestinal infections with certain strains of E.Coli that produce a powerful toxin causing clots to form in the kidneys, brain, pancreas, and liver. These clots consume platelets in the blood and prevent blood flow causing injury to organs, most frequently kidneys. A few days later, a test of a stool sample confirmed Ben had contracted E.Coli, prompting the HUS, renal failure and neurological problems. Suddenly he had trouble saying some words.
Ben spent five days in the ICU and moved to unit 3 for the rest of his recovery. He remailed on dialysis and underwent blood transfusions to keep up his platelet levels, which dropped to eight. Three weeks later, he was well enough to go home. It wasn’t long before he was back to playing on his swing set and running around his backyard! He is now fully recovered! Last year Radiothon listeners helped the hospital buy Rapid Diagnosis Research Technology that will help diagnose conditions like Ben’s.
Ben’s family still don’t know how he contracted E. Coli since no one else on their camping trip got sick, but they are so grateful the Alberta Children’s Hospital was there for him when he needed it. Rebekah the hospital is an amazing place, with the best of the best working there, who did more than just take care of Ben – they took care of the whole family.
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