Fundraiser established for Jacksonville teen battling Gulliain-Barre Syndrome

By Ryne Turke on January 30 at 9:11am

An 18-year-old Jacksonville girl is battling a rare syndrome that impacts one out of every 100,000 people.

WLDS-WEAI News spoke with family friend Dawn Lonergan this week about the road to recovery for Katie Petefish.

Lonergan says Petefish started feeling numbness and tingling in her fingers and toes in early December. Petefish met with several doctors over the next few weeks, all of whom were unable to identify what was wrong with her. Lonergan says Petefish suffered a scary incident on Christmas Eve.

“She collapsed on the floor in her mom’s kitchen because her feet became paralyzed.  They sent her to St. John’s Hospital and did a bunch of tests. Later they diagnosed her with the Gulliain-Barre Syndrome, which attacks the nervous system and slowly paralyzes parts of your body.”

During her three day stay at St. John’s Hospital, Petefish was unable walk, move her hands, became paralyzed on the left side of her face and struggled to communicate.

Petefish was transferred to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis on December 30th for blood dialysis treatments. Due to her inability to breathe on her own, Petefish was put on a ventilator.

Longergan describes the procedures Petefish is currently going through.

“They are working on getting her weened off of her respirator and meds, so she can start some upper body physical therapy. She has had problems with her blood pressure going up and down. She has to learn to walk, talk, swallow and move her arms and legs. She has very long road ahead of her.”

Lonergan says the past month has been extremely difficult on the Petefish family.

“She has got four siblings, a stepdad taking care of things at home and a mom that had to take a leave of absence from work. Her grandmother has been there at the hospital too. It is really hard and everyone is missing her. She is one of those people that electrifies a room when she is around.”

Lonergan recently started a FundRazr account to help the family out with traveling expenses and day-to-day living costs. The page has raised a little over $1,000 so far.

A special benefit will take place at Bogart’s on March 19th, which will include an auction, music and gun raffle. Leo’s Pizza also plans on holding a Pack The House Night in Petefish’s honor.

Click here to donate.