MIDLAND, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) – A 5-year-old girl from Midland is fighting a serious and a rare medical condition.

Serenity is in a Dallas hospital, bravely fighting Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM). Serenity’s family is by her side as doctors work to treat the neurological condition, one without a known cure.

“She’s 5 and she’s paralyzed,” said Tammie Isaacks, Serenity’s grandmother. “She’s in full paralysis. She can’t move from the neck down. It’s in her brain. It’s in her spine. It’s on her nerves.”

Tammie said Serenity began experiencing symptoms on September 8th.

“On Thursday, she started with some headaches. So, she missed school on Friday,” Tammie recalled.

On Saturday, Serenity, an avid soccer player, had a match. She tried to play but was unable to.

“She got home and tried to walk up the stairs. At this time, her neck was just kind of wobbly,” Tammie said.

Serenity was rushed to Midland Memorial Hospital where doctors initially diagnosed Serenity with a sinus infection. But Serenity’s left arm quickly grew limp. She developed a high fever.

Looking for answers, Serenity’s family took her to Odessa, where doctors performed a spinal tap for meningitis.

“Her stats kept getting worse. They brought in a plane from Amarillo and brought her here [to Dallas],” Tammie said.

Serenity’s mother and Tammie are staying in Dallas as Serenity undergoes professional medical care. She is on a ventilator in the ICU. Her health has grown worse. The 5-year-old’s left lung has partially collapsed, but is improving.

“Today, her other lung collapsed. She’s just fighting real hard,” Tammie said tearfully of the child she calls a ‘Princess.’

Tammie is sharing her granddaughter’s medical battle with Yourbasin.com because she wants other parents to learn about Acute Flaccid Myelitis.

“Nobody’s even heard of it. I mean, I’ve never, ever heard of it,” Tammie said. “There’s not enough research on it. I think a lot of kids are being misdiagnosed and the word needs to get out so this doesn’t happen to them.”

Research from the CDC and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia say AFM is a polio-like illness that affects the nerve cells in the gray matter of the spinal cord.

Children with AFM develop:

  • Sudden arm or leg weakness
  • Facial drooping
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty speaking, swallowing & breathing
  • Neck & back pain

AFM was first widely reported in 2014. The true cause of AFM is unknown, but viruses are suspected, including the West Nile Virus.

There have been no studies on specific medical treatments for AFM.

This very rare and very serious neurological condition isn’t just shocking; it’s life-changing for Serenity and her family.

“I mean, she’s in hip-hop. She’s in dance. She’s in soccer. She’s in basketball. A very healthy, active little girl…” Tammie said.

Serenity is a goofy and outgoing child, Tammie added. Now, the family must wait for positive progress as doctors work to keep Serenity’s oxygen levels stable.

“They can’t promise she will ever walk again,” Tammie said. “They can’t promise anything, really.”

Family friends are organizing a fundraiser on Thursday, September 22nd, from 5-8 P.M. at Club Oasis in Midland. It’s called ‘Pot Luck for a Princess.’ Tammie said every little bit helps right now. You can find those details here.

For those unable to attend the fundraiser, but would like to help Serenity’s family during this medical recovery, a GoFundMe can also be found here. Any donation is welcomed.

Serenity’s mother, Deanna Hebert, has a Venmo (@deanna-hebert) and a Cashapp ($deannahebert23), too. A close family friend told Yourbasin.com that any financial support is welcomed in this challenging time because the family “didn’t have time to get anything before they left and literally left with what they had with them.”

‘Pot Luck for a Princess’ on Thursday, September 22

Mary Williams, Serenity’s grandmother, shared this comment on Facebook Monday night. It read in part, “Left lower lobe was partially collapsed last week and is much improved, however, the right lower lobe is starting to partially collapse, as well. Besides the extreme weakness/paralysis to her limbs the most critical issue is keeping her oxygen saturation up at a safe level. This definitely has been a struggle since last Thursday when the doctors had to make that decision to intubate her. This disease has wrecked havoc on her brain stem and spinal cord affecting all nerves, and even unfortunately, nerves in her diaphragm. Her daddy Tavian, mom Deanna, grandma Tammie, Poppa, and myself were with her Sunday at ORMC and hot on their trail Monday trying to get to Children’s Hospital in Dallas where they had flown her. Last week was a hurry up-and-wait while test after test was done for a definite diagnosis. Serenity Hope is a more than special little girl. She is a fighter. All we can do is trust God, remain faithful and know He’s working through these doctors, nurses and therapists, to work to get her better with the limited knowledge known on this condition. Continued prayers for my ReePooh and her recovery, the parents for strength, and us grandparents as we provide support, love and that shoulder to lean on. I wish this condition on no one, nor any family to have to watch their child go through this. As a nurse this is absolutely heartbreaking that I can’t help make my baby girl better. I have never felt so helpless in my life as I do now. I’m so thankful to Dr. Sexton at ORMC ER for simply paying attention and assessing his patient, trusting his medical knowledge to know Serenity needed to be somewhere else other than Midland/Odessa. I ask for continued prayers for Serenity because our little girl definitely needs them. #SerenityStrong”