Benjamin Vincent lines up his toys at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham.

FC boy recovers from rare virus

The famous quote “some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers” might be true, but the Vincent family is thanking God every day for their most recent answered prayers.

Kevin and Hannah Vincent’s 3-year-old son Benjamin Vincent was recently diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis. Within a day of diagnosis, Benjamin was beating the odds and showing signs of recovery.

According to grandmother Heather Fowler, doctors said they couldn’t explain why he was improving so quickly – because kids who have what he has don’t improve.

“We knew why he was improving: answered prayers. We had everyone we know praying,” Fowler said.

Benjamin was admitted to ECM Sept. 11, suffering from dehydration because of pneumonia, Hannah said. The next day, doctors told the family he was doing better and could go home Sept. 13 – but just a few hours later, Benjamin was unable to move his right arm. When his parents tried to get him to walk, he was unsteady, and when they got him back onto the bed, he suddenly fell over.

“It was terrifying because we had never heard of anything like this,” Hannah said.

Benjamin was transferred to Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, and Sept. 14 he was diagnosed. By this point, Benjamin’s body was paralyzed from his head to his toes, but he was still able to talk.

Hannah said doctors predicted her son would need a wheelchair and a ventilator, but the next day, Benjamin proved the doctors wrong. He was given intravenous immunoglobulin and that very day began to move his fingers.

“He was getting better before the medicine kicked in,” Fowler said.

The IVIG, as Hannah explained, had thousands of antibodies, and it was the doctors’ hope that at least 98 would have seen the virus before and could fight it off – but it wasn’t supposed to kick in for three weeks.

“The doctors couldn’t believe it because there were two other children at the hospital with the same thing, and they weren’t making the same progress,” Fowler said.

Benjamin was released Sept. 23 – the day he was finally able to lift his head all the way up on his own.

While he has made significant progress, he isn’t 100 percent better, but he is going to physical therapy and making new progress every day.

“I just praise God every second for this miracle,” Hannah said.

AFM is rare, but it is serious because it affects the nervous system, specifically the spinal cord and gray matter of the brain. It has mostly affected children, and the number of cases has increased significantly since 2014.

AFM has been linked to polio and West Nile Virus, but oftentimes it is hard to identify the cause of AFM. For more information visit https://www.cdc.gov/acute-flaccid-myelitis/about-afm.html.

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