Saturday, March 01, 2008

Can E. Coli be linked to seizures?

A local family is taking their near-tragedy of a year-and-a-half ago and hoping to use it to raise funds for a good cause. Carolyn and Victor Mendoza, along with their son Kevin, will be part of an annual radiothon that will benefit the University of New Mexico Children's Hospital's. The radiothon starts Wednesday and runs through Friday.

In July of 2006, Kevin Mendoza got sick. His parents, Carolyn and Victor, took him to his pediatrician with a bad case of diarrhea. The doctor sent the family to the University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH) where it was later found that the youngster had contracted E. coli.

"We're not sure where he got it, but it was about two weeks before the spinach outbreak," Carolyn said.

Since there is no treatment for E. coli, they just had to ride it out, Carolyn said. Kevin was put on an IV to keep him hydrated, and the family waited for the disease to run its course.

Once a child has been exposed to E. coli, there is a chance that it will develop into hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). "He was diagnosed with HUS, and three days after he was admitted, his kidneys failed," Carolyn said.

Things quickly cascaded from bad to worse — Kevin's lungs filled with fluid, he developed pancreatitis, he required blood transfusions and daily dialysis. "We didn't know when it was going to stop," his mother remembers.

The HUS has different stages, and the further in you get with the syndrome, the higher the fatality rate goes, Carolyn said. At one point, Kevin couldn't control his eye movements and physicians were concerned he was having seizures, Carolyn said.

"They did tests, and he wasn't having seizures, but the next stage is a coma," she said. "He slept for three days straight and didn't open his eyes, but he never went into a coma."

After five weeks of ups and downs, Kevin's kidneys began functioning again, but they are scared and damaged. "Most kids do recover, but with the scar tissue we have a long road ahead," Carolyn said. "We are probably looking at a transplant at some point. The doctors can't say when because they aren't sure what his body will do."

Now that Kevin is out of the woods and home again in Los Lunas, the Mendoza family has been working to help UNMH any way they can. "They have done a lot of things for us," Carolyn said. "We owe tons of thanks to them."

The family has participated in other fundraising efforts for the hospital, which is a Children's Miracle Network hospital, and will be part of the radiothon. "We will be on Friday afternoon," Carolyn said. "I don't really know what to expect. We're just going to tell our story."

Kevin was also featured in a television commercial promoting the radiothon, his mom said. "It's cool to see him in the commercial, but then you remember why," she said. "We thought we were going to lose the little guy."

Jackie, Tony and Donnie of 100.3 The Peak will broadcast the radiothon live from the sixth floor of the UNM Children's Hospital. It will run from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. nonstop today through Friday.

Listeners can make a pledge by calling 272-1003 or 1-866-811-1003. Visit for more information about the radiothon.

On Thursday, Feb. 28, those wishing to make donations to the radiothon can visit seven Albuquerque restaurants that will be donating a percentage of their sales that day to the radiothon. The restaurants are Applebee's, Boston's Gourmet Pizza, Golden Corral, Hot Dog On A Stick, Jersey Jacks, Red Robin and Texas Land and Cattle Co.


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