Cost of feeling better 

Parker Case feels better since the Independent first reported on his frustrations finding local health care (See “Long way from help” Aug. 9, 2007), but he still has a long, expensive road ahead.

Five-year-old Parker’s journey began in May when he contracted transverse myelitis (TM), a rare and incurable neurological illness that causes inflammation of spinal tissue. In Parker’s circumstance the disease causes severe leg pain and persistent headaches. He has also experienced a loss of bladder control that has required frequent use of a catheter.

Local doctors could do very little for Parker, his mother, Laura Case, told the Independent in August, because they lacked experience treating the rare disease.

Doctors advised her to have Parker examined by a pediatric neurologist before continuing treatment. But there was a waiting list at the time for the only pediatric neurologist practicing in Montana, and Parker needed help as soon as possible because the effects of TM become permanent if not treated promptly.

Following the Independent’s report, Sanford Siegel, president of the Washington state-based Transverse Myelitis Association, contacted the family and put them in touch with Seattle Children’s Hospital, which could better deal with Parker’s illness.

In October, Parker underwent a Mitrofanoff procedure at Seattle Children’s to temporarily alleviate his need for a catheter. Despite an abdominal infection following the surgery, and temporary confinement to a wheelchair, Parker feels better now—he could be heard yelling during a recent phone call with his mother. But health comes at a cost: over $150,000, according to his mother.

To help pay for medical bills, present and future, Parker’s friends and family will host a “Party For Parker” at Washington Middle School, 645 W. Central Ave., on Friday Nov. 16, at 6:30 p.m. with an auction led by Missoula Mayor John Engen.

Case says her son will need more surgeries in the future, but for now his spirits are high.

“He wants to get back to school in January,” his mother says.
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