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Four-year-old Roanoke boy battling rare, polio-like disease

Camdyn Carr in the hospital battling AFM (Photo provided by family)

ROANOKE, Va. (WSET) -- A Roanoke boy is one in a million children now suffering from a rare polio-like disease that can lead to paralysis.

Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) attacks the nervous system and can lead to paralysis.

Symptoms can often look like a cold or sinus infection. Camdyn Carr's parents say he was a perfectly healthy kid eight weeks ago when he came down with what they thought was a sinus infection. When they took him to the doctors office, they thought the same.

"You just think they have a cold, and they don't," Brittany Hoff, Camdyn's mother said

Two weeks later, half of his face was paralyzed. Within 24 hours, he was barely able to speak or move.

"There's no answers for why he got it," Hoff said. "The doctors said there's nothing that we could have prevented there's nothing that we could have done."

Doctors told them there is no cure to this disease.

"They said that he will never recover," Hoff said. "For the rest of his life - paralyzed."

Camdyn was immediately taken to UVA when he started to show symptoms. He is now at the Kennedy Kreiger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.

"To hear him be so young, and to just not have a chance to have a normal childhood, it's heartbreaking," Hoff said.

Camdyn is currently undergoing lots of physical therapy - doctors say this is the only method of treatment.

"If he's not one-hundred-percent back to normal, then whatever is left is what we have to deal with for the rest of his life," Chris Carr, Camdyn's father said. "What he has to deal with for the rest of his life."

He can't speak and can only wiggle his fingers and toes, and move one leg.

"He seems okay sometimes, but there are a lot of times where he's crying," Carr said. "And I know it's because he can't speak."

Camdyn is expected to be at the hospital in Baltimore until December 18.

"Pretty much it's all up to Camdyn's body on how well he's going to recover," Susan Ames, Camdyn's grandmother said.

Camdyn's family said that he is a fighter and he wants to get better - they said he never wants to get back into his hospital bed after physical therapy.

"We know that he's going to recover," Hoff said.

When asked what is getting this family through this, they said "him."

"He's just been a champion and a warrior through all of this," Dereck Cummings, Camdyn's uncle said.

They said they know he will be back doing his favorite things - playing with toy trains, shooting basketballs and spending time with his little sister and their cats.

"He's our hero," Ames said.

The CDC says the cause of this disease is still unknown.

In new numbers released this week, they confirmed 62 cases this year, but they are investigating 127 potential cases.

The average age of those afflicted - four years old. 90-percent of those afflicted are under the age of 18.

The CDC says parents should look for sudden signs of weakness in the arms and legs.

Camdyn's family said that they want more people to be aware of this disease.

A GoFundMe was created to help support the family as they go through this.

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