KINGSTON — Brandon Sarette is still haunted by that night last May when he woke up and couldn’t feel his legs.
The 11-year-old Kingston boy was scared and knew he had to tell his parents, but when he attempted to climb out of bed he fell to the floor.
Startled and confused, he slowly crawled to his parents’ bedroom to wake them up.
“I didn’t really know what was going on. I was just shocked,” recalled Brandon, who earlier that evening felt some tingling in his feet during a basketball game but didn’t realize it was something concerning.
Brandon was rushed to Exeter Hospital and soon found himself at Boston Children’s Hospital.
His mother, Becky, said she’ll never forget hearing the medical team tell her and her husband, James, “As of right now your son is paralyzed from the belly button down. We think we know what’s going on. Hopefully it’s one of two things and we’ll get him the treatment and we pray that he’ll be OK.”
After a series of tests that had Brandon and his parents fearing the worst, doctors diagnosed him with a condition known as idiopathic acute demyelinating transverse myelitis.
It’s a condition similar to the one that struck former American paralympic swimmer Victoria Arlen when she was growing up in New Hampshire and left her paralyzed for years until she recently began to walk again.
Brandon’s own immune system had attacked the myelin coating of his spinal nerves, causing inflammation of his spinal cord and a lesion that interrupted communication between the nerves and the rest of his body.
The sudden paralysis from the waist down was a frightening ordeal for the Sanborn Regional Middle School student and his family, but the quick action by the doctors who treated him led to a quick recovery. He began walking again within days and made a complete recovery a few weeks later.
In the months that followed, Brandon launched a campaign to raise money for Boston Children’s Hospital to research the disorder and say thank you to the doctors who helped him during his darkest hours.
Brandon, known simply as “B” to his friends, sold shirts with “#BSTRONG” on the front, the Boston Children’s Hospital logo along the arm, and the transverse myelitis ribbon on the back.
Members of the school community rallied around Brandon and wasted no time buying shirts and donating to his cause, which has raised $3,625.
“It rocked this community and they wrapped their arms around our family with meals and flowers and gifts for him,” Becky said.
Brandon recently presented a check to his team of doctors, but hopes to reach his goal of raising $5,000.
“There is no cure but they’re starting stem cell research. Hopefully this money will help,” Becky said, adding that the money could also be used to help with costly treatments for patients.
While he still has some lingering effects, Brandon has returned to basketball, but decided not to resume football.
He must undergo spinal and brain MRIs every six months for the next five years to monitor the condition. Doctors haven’t seen any sign of a return and he and his family are keeping their fingers crossed.
Brandon is asking anyone interested in his fundraising campaign through Boston Children’s Hospital to visit http://fundraise.childrenshospital.org/goto/BSTRONG to make a donation.