If there’s a fish to be fished, a trail to be discovered, or a toad to be tickled under its chin, Drake is there, forging new outdoor adventures. By the five-year-old’s adventurous spirit, you wouldn’t know that he has a neuronal autoimmune disorder.
“Drake started showing symptoms shortly before his third birthday,” remembers his mother Brooke. “Unfortunately, most of his symptoms were misdiagnosed, and we didn’t get a true diagnosis until May 2017 when we brought him to Mayo Clinic.”
Drake’s antibodies, while fighting off infections as they should, began to mistake a region of his brain as a foreign invader and began attacking it, a condition called autoimmune encephalitis. Symptoms can include inflammation of the brain, slowed speech, cognitive decline, seizures, and abnormal movements. Encephalitis is often caused by a virus or bacteria, but sometimes, its true origin remains a mystery.
Drake is now receiving intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG), a therapy that uses healthy antibodies from donors’ plasma to suppress his overactive immune system. (One bag of IVIG is derived from more than 1,000 blood donors.) This donated plasma has allowed Drake to continue communing with toads and pursuing new Huck Finn-ian adventures.
“Currently, Drake is receiving infusions every four weeks,” says Brooke. “While there is no cure yet for autoimmune encephalitis, we are very thankful and blessed to be able to treat his condition with the IVIG that is so graciously donated by so many, many people.”
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