MDA: Young MD patient survives battle with H1N1

9:46 PM, Aug 30, 2011   |    comments
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By Mike Bush

Chesterfield, MO (KSDK) - On the highway of life, there's nothing quite like smooth pavement when you can see so many bumps in your rear view mirror.

Fifteen-year-old Connor Walsh is a sophomore in high school with big dreams

"I like video games, so I could be a video game designer," said Walsh.

There's nothing wrong with thinking about the future, especially when he almost didn't have one.

When Connor was born, he wasn't like his older brother and sister.

"I just knew he was different," said Connor's mom, Judy Walsh.

He struggled more than most to stand up, then to walk. By the time, he was in kindergarten his parents were nervous to put him on the bus every day.

"He'd be in school and be walking down the hallway and you know how kids are," said Connor's dad, Joe Walsh. "They're running and moving at high speed down the hallway and just a stiff wind would knock him over."

It took test after test but when Connor was 6-years-old doctors finally had a diagnosis. He had Congenital Muscular Dystrophy.

"Actually we were kind of relieved because I knew it was something," says Judy Walsh.

Congenital MD causes weak muscles, spine stiffness, and in some cases, respiratory problems. What it didn't affect was Connor's attitude.

"He knew what he had and sort of dealt with it all along," explained Judy Walsh.

Then, one day two years ago he woke up one morning with a cough.

"I'm a daughter of a doctor," she said, "and you usually say, we'll see how you are tomorrow. But something told me take him to the doctor."

He ended up at St. Louis Children's Hospital where in the middle of that night, with his father by his side, Connor stopped breathing.

"All of a sudden there's eight doctors and nurses in the room working on him trying to revive him," recalled Joe Walsh.

He was revived, but at that point doctors couldn't make any guarantees.

"It was hard," he said through tears.

It turns out that Connor was infected with the H1N1 virus that swept the globe in 2009. That flu is dangerous for anyone, but especially for someone with MD. Connor was in a coma for several days and in the hospital for eight months.

"It felt great to get back home," said Connor.

After spending last year being home schooled, Connor finally returned to classes at Lafayette High School just a few weeks ago.

Through it all, from the diagnosis to those frightening months at Children's, the Walsh's said they got through it with support from friends, family and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

"They make you feel like you're not alone," said Judy.

The MDA believes that they're on the road to a cure, and with the courage of young people like Connor Walsh, they can't help but be inspired to go the extra mile.


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