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Five-year-old boy fights rare disease

How can a little boy go from being perfectly happy and healthy one day to deathly ill the next? Becky Stewart knows how as her 5-year-old son Dalton did just that a few weeks ago.
Dalton had been visiting his father, Randall Stewart, who lives near Winchester when he developed a fever. That was on a Friday night. By Monday, he was bleeding from his eyes.
Dalton’s grandmother, Wanda Davis, said, “I had just left my daughter’s house when she called me screaming. Dalton had been fine and all the sudden blood was gushing out of his eyes.”
Dalton was rushed by ambulance to River Park where the nurse practitioner on call sent him to Vanderbilt. He was eventually diagnosed with Kawasaki disease.
“We had never heard of it before,” said Davis.
The cause of Kawasaki disease has not been determined. It may be an autoimmune disorder. The disorder affects the mucus membranes, lymph nodes, walls of the blood vessels, and the heart.
Kawasaki disease is a condition that causes inflammation in the walls of small- and medium-sized arteries throughout the body, including the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart. This inflammation can lead to aneurysms.
The disease usually strikes children under age 5. Dalton turned 5 on Oct. 13.
Davis said Dalton is in danger of having an aneurysm at any time. The aneurysm could lead to a massive heart attack.
“He has damage to his eyes and his heart,” said Davis. “He must go to the doctor weekly for blood work. He also goes to a doctor in Nashville for his eyes. The doctors have said this will take a good year to get over.”
Dalton has undergone intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) treatment twice. IVIG is given as a plasma protein replacement therapy for immune deficient patients who have decreased or abolished antibody production capabilities.
Becky Stewart said the doctors at Vanderbilt have only seen nine cases of Kawasaki disease. Dalton’s family doctor is Dr. Jimmie Woodlee, who has never had a patient with Kawasaki disease before Dalton.
Dalton was extremely dehydrated and his fever of 104.9 degrees, which lasted several days, has resulted in the skin on his hands and feet peeling.
“The doctor said his skin will peel all the way up his body,” said Becky.
Added Davis, “This has been life-changing thing for all of us and for him. He is not the same now as he was before. He was bouncing off the walls before and now something as simple as the light hurts his eyes so much.”
No one knows what causes Kawasaki disease, but scientists do not believe the disease is contagious from person to person. A number of theories link the disease to bacteria, viruses or other environmental factors, but none has been proven, according to the Mayo Clinic website.
Becky said, “Dalton is still not out of the woods. He may need a blood transfusion. The inflammation behind his eyes has caused permanent damage to his eyes. We go to the doctor every few days. The hospital and ambulance bills we have already received are very high, but I will do exactly what I need to do to keep Dalton alive.”
“This Dalton is so different from the old Dalton,” Becky continued. “He is easily set off. He tires easily. He went from 64 pounds down to 51 pounds because he went for 13 days without eating anything. He was severely dehydrated. He had the strawberry colored tongue and had ulcers in his mouth. He will not be able to go to kindergarten next year because he cannot have any live vaccines for a year and he must be vaccinated before he can go to school. No one who has a sore throat or who might have a cold can be around Dalton. He is susceptible to illness. I hope no parent ever, ever has to deal with this. This will rip your heart out. I don’t know what I would do without my mom. She has been my rock through this.”
A benefit auction, spaghetti supper and car show is being planned to help with Dalton’s medical expenses. The benefit will be held March 2 at Lucky CIC located at 8406 Lucky Road.
The spaghetti supper will begin at 5 p.m. and the auction will start at 6 p.m. Donations for the auction may be dropped off at The Mail Center on Sparta Street. For more information, call Wanda Davis at 931-224-3654 or see the “Benefit for Dalton Stewart” or “Prayers for Dalton Stewart” pages on Facebook.

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