I Made a Promise to My Son

As instructed to Jaimie Seaton

When our son Aidan was in pre-Okay, the academics needed to place him in a gifted faculty. However I felt like he was nonetheless a child, and I needed him to have a traditional childhood and never be overwhelmed with schoolwork, so my husband and I opted to maintain him in the identical faculty, the place he performed soccer and chess. Even at that younger age, he was an excellent chess participant.

We had no cause to consider that something was flawed with him or that something was occurring in his physique till the latter a part of first grade, in late March, when Aidan began having imaginative and prescient issues. He couldn’t see peripherally. He would stumble upon issues and he began writing on an angle, neither of which appeared a giant deal at the moment. We simply thought he wanted glasses and that it will be a straightforward repair.

Aidan in 2006

We went to an ophthalmologist and a pediatric ophthalmologist, they usually each mentioned he had 20/20 imaginative and prescient. So, then we went to a retina specialist, our pediatrician, and at last to a neurologist who did a bodily checkup. He didn’t suppose something was flawed however beneficial an MRI to be thorough.

Once we received the outcomes of the MRI again in June, it was the primary time we’d heard about this situation referred to as adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), which destroys the myelin within the mind and impacts males most severely. ALD impacts all points of neurological functioning and with Aidan it affected his imaginative and prescient first. An individual’s capability to listen to, see, stroll, discuss and eat — all of that’s ultimately taken away till you’re in a vegetative state and finally, die.

There was already a whole lot of harm achieved by the point Aidan was identified, and we knew we needed to do every little thing we may to avoid wasting his life.

We had a visit to Disney World already deliberate once we received the analysis, and we determined it was vital for our household to go. Aidan liked all of the rides and was fearless. He didn’t know what was occurring, and we tried to make one of the best of it. I’m grateful that we made that journey as a result of it was the very last thing we did as a household earlier than Aidan went into the hospital.

It was overwhelming to have our lives turned the other way up from one second to the following. Every part was nice — after which we obtained this life-altering analysis. When that occurs, you do not actually have a whole lot of time to suppose. We have been on this mode to avoid wasting Aidan’s life, and our selections needed to be made in a short time.

There are a couple of hospitals within the nation which have experience on this situation, certainly one of which is in Minnesota, so we have been on a airplane to Minnesota the next week. At the moment, in 2011, the one remedy for ALD was a bone marrow transplant, and Aidan was eligible. This was our solely possibility, so we opted for it and moved our household all the way down to North Carolina so he may get remedy at Duke.

That was very tough as a result of we have been dwelling in a metropolis the place we didn’t know anybody, although I’m grateful that Aidan’s grandparents got here down and stayed with us and helped with our daughter, Sienna, who was 5 on the time.

We simply lived day-to-day, taking turns dwelling within the hospital as a result of we by no means left Aidan alone. It was turmoil, praying for an excellent consequence however getting hit with an increasing number of dangerous information.

Aidan obtained his bone marrow transplant on his seventh birthday. However as a result of he had a late-stage analysis, he misplaced all of his talents and he spent seven months within the hospital earlier than being transferred to NYU, the place he spent a further three months.

On April 29, 2012, Aidan died on the age of seven ½.

Aidan in 2010
Aidan in 2010

Whereas I used to be dwelling within the hospital, I did analysis on something that would change the course of Aidan’s situation, and I keep in mind mendacity within the mattress with him and studying that there was a new child screening check for ALD — however not one state was placing it to make use of. I knew that it will have meant the distinction between life and demise for Aidan in addition to hundreds of different boys on the market. Although this situation is uncommon, it’s not that uncommon: It strikes 1 in 15,000. So why wasn’t the check a part of the routine new child screening achieved in each state?

I referred to as the new child screening lab in Albany as I lay in mattress subsequent to Aidan. I received one of many administrators on the cellphone and was instructed that they needed ALD to be examined for, however, as a authorities company, their fingers have been tied.

I simply knew at that second that I needed to do every little thing I may to stop this from taking place to different boys and different households. By the top of 2012, I had began a basis in Aidan’s honor and launched into a mission to have each child in New York screened for ALD.

Lastly, after about 6 months of preventing, Aidan’s Regulation was signed in New York, on March 29, 2013 — precisely 11 months to the day of dropping Aidan — making it the primary state within the nation to check all infants born for ALD. Since that point, our basis, ALD Alliance, has labored in lots of different states so as to add ALD testing. At the moment we’re testing for ALD in 29 states and dealing towards federal laws to make sure each child born all through the nation is examined for all new child screening situations which have remedies.

I really feel grateful to Aidan as a result of I really feel like I’m a car, and my love for him retains me going. I promised him that I’d make this occur earlier than I died.

I’ve had the privilege of assembly the household of a boy who was identified in New York, due to new child screening achieved due to Aidan’s Regulation. I used to be so grateful to fulfill them and to know that his life will likely be completely different due to my son. At the moment, I’ve met many households as we proceed our work and maintain annual ALD Requirements of Care Conferences each January. I’m grateful and blessed to have these households in my life and to know their lives will likely be completely different due to new child screening.

I believe Aidan could be pleased with me.

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