Fund-raiser to help area child, family

Published 10:34 pm Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Five-year-old Megan Eatmon has been diagnosed with Dandy-Walker Syndrome, which is a rare brain disease affecting the development of the brain.

Doctors now believe she may also have Rett Syndrome, a disorder is identified with a deceleration of the rate of head growth.

Dandy-Walker Syndrome affects the cerebellum and the fluid-filled spaces around it.

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A partial or complete absence of the area of the brain between the cerebellum’s hemispheres is another trait associated with the disease. The brain believes there is a need for more white blood cells, causing it to generate more and more to “repair” the absent area in the cerebellum.

“The first time we knew something was wrong, we thought we had lost her,” said Megan’s father, Stuart Eatmon. “We were down at a restaurant in Sweet Water, and she just hit the floor and her eyes were rolling; she was as limp as a dishrag. We took her to the hospital, and her blood count was 37,000, and it’s supposed to be 11,000.

“They treated her with antibiotics — this was all back in October — and the doctor said it was probably a brain infection. The treatment didn’t bring the blood count down; it just came down on its own. Then, about two weeks later, she was back with the same thing.”

Megan was brought to Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, where geneticists discovered that she had Dandy-Walker Syndrome.

“She’s got a sinking in the top of her brain and a hole in the center of her brain,” Stuart said. “Her skull is not growing, but her brain is. It pushed the hole closed that’s in the middle of her brain, put two different nerves together that causes her brain to think she needs white blood cells, and she doesn’t. That causes her white blood cell count to go up.

“The people in Birmingham said that one day, that white blood count will go up and it’s not going to come down, and she’s going to go into a coma and pass, and there’s nothing they can do for her.”

Megan will go to the University of Chicago to take part in a study for treatment of Dandy-Walker Syndrome that will be funded by a federal grant.

The fund-raiser will help the Eatmons with peripheral costs, like hotels, meals and other things while they are in Chicago.

To help the Eatmons raise money to visit a hospital at the University of Chicago, which specializes in treating children with Dandy-Walker Syndrome, Tina Rivas has painted a special artwork, “Eye of the Beholder,” that will be auctioned at the Faunsdale Bike Rally on Friday, Oct. 2, at 5 p.m.

“It is absolutely gorgeous,” said Deana Pritchett. “It has the three crosses of Calvary in the eye of a bald eagle. Anyone wanting to make bids should send them to me at 59 Peregrine Way, Forkland, AL 36740.”

Rivas said she had heard of the fund-raiser and wanted to contribute.

“I collect a lot of photographs of eagles,” she said. “It was just something that I wanted to do.

“I think that when something is wrong with anyone, the entire community needs to get involved and do what they can; everybody do their part.”

An account has also been set up for Megan at the First Bank of Linden. Those wanting to mail in donations can do so to: First Bank of Linden, P.O. Box 481119, Linden, AL 36748.