Emily Brennan Fundraiser

March 15, 2010 by  
Filed under News

The Crab Shack to Host Fundraiser for Young Emily Brennan

Up until last September, Emily Brennan had been an active 4th grader and honor roll student who loved to dance and ride her bicycle. At first doctors were baffled when the nine year old started having acute stomach pains that lead to a number of diagnoses and complications including the removal of her appendix which brought no relief. Eventually she couldn’t walk and was in so much pain that she was transported to Scottish Rites Hospital in Atlanta, where her parents, Erin McAlpin and Brandy Brennan of Wilmington Island, GA sought the advice of more specialists.

It was discovered that Emily was suffering from visceral hyperalgesia, a chronic nerve pain disorder which may have been caused by a virus or as complications of surgery – they said basically the nerves in her stomach were “turned on” and there was no way to turn them off. She would just have to learn to live with the pain.

While Emily was in Atlanta she had physical therapy three times a day to start her walking again. The doctors also did an MRI to make sure they weren’t missing something and found a Chiari 1 malformation with syrinz, a condition in which a portion of the brain herniates, pushing through the base of the skull and presses against the brainstem. Syrinx ‘cysts’ usually form on the spinal cord, and very in size. Most involve the upper extremities causing headaches, numbness and tingling of fingers, and other symptoms.

It was then the Brennans decided to also consult another doctor, a pediatric neurosurgeon in Savannah. Within minutes of examining her, he stated she would need immediate surgery.  He also mentioned there’s a possibility that the varied diagnoses and treatments might even be related to what’s going on now, due to the fact Emily was perfectly well just six months earlier.

Emily’s syrinx is located in the lower part of her spine, very large for her age. and could be affecting her gait and causing her pain while walking. Surgery was performed on February 15th, and seems to have been successful. However, it will be some time before it will be determined just how successful, or what the long term effects will be, but everyone is hopeful.   As Emily’s case and the issues involved are considered rare, the surgery was recorded, and several other neurologists and neurosurgeons were involved.

These past months, many have been inspired by the positive, unbreakable spirit of this and debilitating pain, missed school, missed being with friends and doing many of the things she loves, yet is still smiling.

“Emily’s a very special little girl,” remarks Jackie Burn, owner of A.J. Dockside Restaurant on Tybee Island, and Emily’s aunt. “We are hopeful that this ordeal will soon be over and that we can help the family cover the costs of these extensive, expensive surgeries.”

Meanwhile, local island communities have rallied to support the Brennans, and fundraisers have been taking place including one at the Tybee gymnasium, given by Emily’s Marshpoint Elementary teachers in conjunction with Family Skate Night at the Tybee YMCA.

There will also be a BBQ dinner, raffle and silent auction at The Crab Shack on March 28th from 2:00pm – 6:00pm, and everyone is invited.  For tickets, raffle and auction donations, or more information, please call Colin at 912-856-1787, or email Jackie at jmb9427@aol.com.

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