Maegan RaeAnn Morrow

This is the survivor story for my daughter Maegan RaeAnn Morrow. She is now a healthy, normal 7 year old. Looking at her now you would never know what had happened to her 6 years ago. It was July 2002. She was only 10 1/2 months old and had somehow contracted chicken pox. She was our third child, and the older two never had chicken pox because they had been vaccinated against it. Unfortunately, you have to be 12 months old to get the vaccine, so Maegan wasn't quite old enough. After the first day she was acting listless and very uncomfortable. We took her in to the pediatrician and he prescribed her some medication to help with the chicken pox. She also had a fever and was not acting quite like herself. The next day she was getting worse and she had a chicken pock that had become red and inflamed. We once again took her to the pediatrician and he had us take her to the emergency room at Primary Children's Hospital. Once at the emergency room, there was a 3rd year resident who examined Maegan. They did a few tests, and by that night he had determined that she had NF. Due to the quick thinking of this wonderful doctor, Maegan is able to be here with us today. If he had not realized what was wrong right away, the infection would have spread through her tiny body, and it would have been too late. One of her chicken pox - the 'mother' chicken pock - had got infected with Group A Strep, which turned in to NF. It was on her back, over to her right side. They took her in to surgery right away. I can still remember sending her on the table with the doctors and her crying and being scared because she had no idea what was going on. My husband and I slept on the couches of the waiting room that night, early in to the morning hours. They were able to remove all of the infected tissue on the first try, and she was then put in Pediatric Intensive Care. Most of this is a blur to me now, it is hard to remember details of everything that happened. I know they had to put in a chest tube. She also had a reaction to a medication they gave her - it caused her pain medicine to wear off instantly. She was so swollen that instead of looking like my 10 month old baby girl, she looked like she was closer to 2 years old. My parents lived about 8 hours away. My father is a family practice physician, and I had been in contact with him during all this time. As soon as he heard the diagnosis of NF, he said that isn't good and my family packed up and started the drive to Salt Lake City. My Mom, Dad, and one of my sisters made the trip. I remember asking him if he brought his camera and he said he did, but this isn't something you want to take pictures of. He knew that this was a horrible disease, and the outcome usually wasn't good. He didn't want me to have those memories if she didn't make it through. At the time, I never realized how serious this was. Looking back, I don't think anyone ever told me. I had a hard time staying in the PICU with her - I couldn't stand to see her that way. Primary Children's Hospital has resident physicians who are done with medical school but need to get experience before they can fully be licensed. Since NF is so rare and most of the staff at the hospital had not seen it before, they brought several of the residents in to see Maegan so they could learn about it. Maegan cut her first teeth while she was sedated, and eventually made it out of the PICU in to a normal room - although it was quarantined since she still had chicken pox and was contagious. She was in the hospital a total of about 2 1/2 weeks. When we took her home, her wound was left open so the tissue could heal and close itself back up. I had to change her dressing and keep the wound clean until it healed. My Dad kept saying that she would need skin grafts because it was such a large area of skin. Luckily, it healed and closed up and she never needed a skin graft at all - she now has only a scar that is about 9 inches long. She also had a PIC line and a home health nurse came by regularly until it was able to be removed. We are so grateful and thankful that Maegan made it through this, virtually unharmed. My heart goes out to those that have lost family members or loved ones to this horrible disease. When someone asks what her scar is from, Maegan tells people she got sick when she was a baby and almost died. I am so glad she was young enough she can't remember anything that happened to her. Some parents don't want their children to get the chicken pox vaccination, because they would rather let them get chicken pox like we all did when we were kids. Maegan's pediatrician uses this story to tell other parents the importance of that vaccination, because you never know what can trigger NF.