A basketball-obsessed boy is now wheelchair bound and unable to verbally communicate after he was struck down by a brain damaging illness triggered by the FLU.
But despite the horrific illness the Steph Curry-obsessed four-year-old is making a remarkable bounce back.
Andre Carson, of Fresno, California, spent eleven days on life support after he contracted the H1N1 flu virus last year, which triggered acute necrotizing encephalopathy (ANE).
The extremely rare condition causes lesions to develop in regions of the brain, which causes swelling, bleeding and eventually the death of the organ’s tissue.
Andre Carson, pictured with mother Kamareia Parrish, 29, suffers from a rare debilitating condition
Andre Carson, four, spent 11 days on life support after catching the H1N1 flu last year
According to the US National Library of Medical Science, only 59 cases of ANE have been documented in scientific literature and one-third of patients with the illness do not survive.
Andre’s mom Kamareia Parrish, 29, was horrified to discover her child unresponsive and barely breathing hours after the family’s doctor had diagnosed him with a common cold on March 29, 2017.
four-year-old is making a remarkable bounce back
At 2am, Andre was rushed by ambulance to a local hospital before he was transferred to Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera, California, where he was placed on life support.
Although doctors diagnosed Andre with ANE and began treating the illness with steroids, they told mom Kamareia he had suffered severe damage to his brain stem and the left side of his brain.
‘Andre was a friendly, active and bubbly little boy,’ Kamareia said.
‘He was already in preschool when he became sick. He was getting ready to start t-ball and soccer that weekend,’ she added.
Kamareia said his preschool called to tell her Andre was feeling sick so she picked him up from school.
‘He had a sore throat, a fever, diarrhea and he had chills so I brought him straight to the doctor,’ she said.
The doctor suspected Andre was suffering from a cold so she treated him with Tylenol and put him to bed.
But around 2am when Kamareia went to check on her son and give him his sippy cup, he wasn’t responding.
‘I tried to stand him up but he was just limp. He was barely breathing,’ she said. ‘I was so afraid I called an ambulance and when I saw it arrive I just ran outside with him straight away.’
The paramedics stabilized him and intubated him, but his condition was serious.
A CT scan revealed there were lesions on his brain and they discovered he had contracted H1N1 flu virus.
Once he was transferred to another hospital, the lesions kept getting bigger so the doctors treated him with steroids.
The flu virus triggered acute necrotizing encephalopathy (ANE) last year
The once lively little boy now uses a feeding tube and gets around using a power wheelchair
‘The steroids managed to reduce the swelling in his brain but his brain stem and the left side of his brain had a lot of damage,’ Kamareia said.
Andre was diagnosed with necrotizing encephalopathy, triggered by the H1N1 flu virus.
‘It was my lowest moment. I was so angry with God. I was questioning my religion,’ Kamareia said.
‘I told my parents that if Andre died they might as well plan two funerals because I would die too,’ she added. ‘I had to believe he would live.’
Andre spent 11 days in the ICU in total.
‘They extubated him that Sunday and when he started breathing on his own I was so hopeful,’ his mother said. ‘But he opened his eyes and he wasn’t responding.’
‘While it was nice to see them open, he was like a vegetable.’
Andre spent two months in rehabilitation, where he began to voluntarily move his limbs and track movements with his eyes. The little boy returned home on June 13, 2017.
More than a year after falling ill, Andre can only communicate using an electronic device and is beginning to take his first steps using a walker.
The little boy receives his nutrition through a feeding tube and gets around using a power wheelchair.
Kamareia was forced to give up her career with the State of California to become Andre’s full-time carer and said she never knew the damage that could be caused by the flu.
Single mom Kamareia said: ‘I was so surprised that this all stemmed from the flu. Andre was vaccinated but it was for a different strain of the virus.’
‘I was really angry at myself at the beginning because I kept thinking, what if I had brought him to the hospital sooner but my doctor has told me there was no way I could have known,’ she said.
‘Vaccinations are so important. I work closely with an organization called the End- FLUenza Project, which was started by a mom who lost her daughter to a strain of the flu,’ she said.
Kamareia said she doesn’t know where Andre picked up the flu but thinks maybe if someone had gotten the shot or taken precautions to prevent the spread of flu, he wouldn’t have gotten sick.
Andre is learning to walk with a walker and and uses a communications device
‘I’m really paranoid about everything now. If I could keep Andre in a bubblesuit for his whole life I would.
‘He’s pretty much in a wheelchair all the time but he is learning to walk using a walker and lets me know what he needs with his communications device.
‘Our goals for the year are to speak two word sentences, to start walking independently, to grow his vocab.’
The mom has high hopes that Andre will keep progressing and says the fact that he is alive is a miracle.
Kamareia said: ‘It’s been so hard to watch his friends from preschool move on and start school.
‘But I have to stay positive because he’s lucky. Science says he should be here anymore.
‘I know he will keep trying and fighting.
‘I know he’s the same little boy inside but he’s just trapped in his body.
‘I know this because he’s still obsessed Steph Curry, just like he was before he got sick.
‘He’s still obsessed with basketball – that hasn’t changed one bit.’