Kawasaki Disease awareness has earned a few big boosts in the news of late. First, Backstreet Boy Brian Litrell's young son was diagnosed in December and of course, the tragic death of Jett Travolta.
John Travolta and Kelly Preston have always been sort of vague when referring to their son. There was speculation that he was autistic, but this was never confirmed by either parent. This always puzzled me because Jett seemed to be a very vibrant child on the few occasions he was photographed. Why shield this from us as though it was a liability or something to be secretive of?
One thing both parents were vocal about was that at the age of two Jett suffered from Kawasaki Disease. Kelly Preston believed that it had been caused by a carpet cleaning chemical used in their home before he was diagnosed. This has been repeated several times when reporting the (vauge) details of Jet's death.
I wanted to post and point out (read: stress) that our very talented and capable team of doctors at CHEO told us repeatedly that we do not know how Kawasaki occurs in the body, or why it seems to hit young boys under the age of 5 more often. There is speculation that it is a virus, but some doctors believe it lies dormant in the body until activated (sort of like diabetes or cancer). With awareness and research, this is something we might one day know, but at this point, it's still unclear.
The key in all of this is early and precise diagnosis. With treatment, the death rate for Kawasaki is greatly lowered (actually, the death rate for Kawasaki itself is also very low to begin with, it's the resulting aneurysms of the heart that cause problems). The treatment for Kawasaki is very involved, it's not like you can just give the child antibiotics and see if they get better. An IVIG transfer is a serious medical procedure, so doctors have to be very sure in their diagnosis.
Kawasaki Disease in the news shocks me, because so many time I've heard "What is that?" when telling people about Alex. This is tragic, but if the awareness reached helps even one child not to suffer, it's amazingly worth it.
I thank God every day that one doctor (after seeing many) caught Alex's Kawasaki Disease. Because of her, we got the timely treatment from a wonderful hospital and my son is now happy and heart healthy.
More information on Kawasaki Disease can be found here:
I really liked this doctor's explanation of Kawasaki: Dr Scott Alenick on the subject of Jett Travolta
and of course, Alex's story, which I've linked to all over the place!