A 22-year-old woman who recently graduated from the University of Mississippi and left to Thailand is now stuck in the country after developing Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare disorder that has left her paralyzed from the neck down.
After waiting tables to save for her dream trip, Caroline Bradner of Henrico County, Virginia left home in October to teach in the Southeast Asian country.
Bradner applied to teach through a program called Xplore Asia, which landed her in a small town eight hours from Bangkok.
All seemed well until she woke up unable to move days before Christmas.
Bradner suffered from fatigue and weakness before experiencing a full-blown paralysis.
After an assessment at a local hospital, she was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare autoimmune disorder that affects one in 100,000 Americans, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Patients with Guillain-Barré syndrome have an immune system that attacks healthy nerve cells in their peripheral nervous system.
The cause of the disorder is unknown, but it may be triggered by diarrhea, a respiratory illness or infection with the bacterium Campylobacter jejuni, which typically arise from eating raw or undercooked poultry, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Guillain-Barré syndrome has no cure, but several treatment options can ease symptoms.
Patients are also expected to recover, but potential complications include pain, lingering numbness and/or weakness, cardiovascular problems, slow bladder and bowel functions, and difficulty of breathing, which may require the use of a respirator.
After learning her daughter’s condition, Bradner’s mother flew to Thailand.
In the past few days, she managed to move her shoulders and felt tingling sensations on her fingers.
Bradner needs a medical clearance and a nurse on her side in the 26-hour-trip back to the U.S., but she cannot board a commercial flight. To complicate matters, their insurance company initially denied a request to transport her back, according to WTVR.
The Bradners worked together to cover the costs for Caroline, her mother and the accompanying nurse’s trip to the U.S. Her sister created a GoFundMe page to help finance this, as well as general costs for her road to recovery.
Fortunately, the campaign surpassed its $70,000 goal with $76,051 in just three days. More than 900 individuals contributed to the sum.
“Thanks to the outpouring support and the attention from social media we have just learned that the travel insurance company has agreed to get Caroline home,” the Bradners said. “We will utilize all funds for her medical costs and rehabilitation. If there are any additional funds they will be donated to GBS/CIDP Foundation International.”