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Gardner athletic trainer battling rare condition

AFM paralyzed her from the neck down
Posted at 5:44 PM, Feb 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-27 18:44:36-05

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A Gardner woman is battling a rare and serious condition that turned her life upside down.

It's called acute flaccid myelitis, also known as AFM.

In November, 26-year-old Evy Sayavong, an athletic trainer, started feeling a tingling sensation in her toes that worked its way up to her neck.

Her mother, Bouachanh Sayavong-Sirithasak, said her daughter was not concerned at first.

"She thought it may have been related to back pain or something like that because she lifts weights and works out," Sayavong-Sirithasak said.

Before she knew it, the mysterious illness had paralyzed her from the waist down and then the neck down.

After searching for answers at multiple hospitals, doctors diagnosed her with AFM.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rare condition affects the nervous system and causes muscles and reflexes to weaken. It is mostly seen in young children.

There were 37 confirmed cases of AFM in 2019.

Sayavong-Sirithasak hopes her daughter's story will make others aware that it can happen to adults, too.

"It's scary for somebody like her who's always able to do stuff on her own, she's very independent, never asked for help with anything," Sayavong-Sirithasak said.

Evy's friends are showing their support by selling T-shirts that say "Fit For Evy." The family has also started a GoFundMe page for help with medical expenses.

Sayavong-Sirithasak said it is difficult to see her daughter struggle, but she'll always be there to support and encourage her.

"Sometimes she wants to give up, sometimes she cries," Sayavong-Sirithasak said. "I tell her you want to get out of the hospital, you want to go back to your normal life. It may take a long time, there's going to be some things that you cannot get back, but don't give up."