Church hosts fund-raiser for ill, 7-year-old Carson girl

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When Amanda Stewart caught the flu in March, it came and went through the family just like every other bout with the flu.

Everyone in the house caught it, and everyone recovered. But Amanda, 7, became weak, tired and lost her appetite shortly after she recouped from the flu.

Her face and body began to swell, and while her Carson City pediatrician diagnosed the disease, the doctor was at a loss trying to help her.

On April 1, the Seeliger Elementary School first-grader was taken to Stanford University Medical Center where she has stayed for most of the last month and a half, battling a rare liver disease induced by her bout with the flu.

The disease has a benign name, minimal change disease, but has compromised Amanda's kidneys, forcing them to lose protein, said Amanda's grandmother, Pat Fox. The side effects have been lethargy, loss of appetite and painful swelling, making Amanda almost appear "like a pregnant child."

Doctors at Stanford have used standard treatments -- steroids and protein -- to respond to the disease, but so far the disease has proved resistant to the steroid treatments and her body has reacted with symptoms from seizures to high blood pressure that have forced her to stay in California instead of returning to Carson City.

She returned home twice, only to be rushed back by Care Flight back to California for treatment. While the disease is rarely fatal, Amanda's prognosis is uncertain. She and her mother, Tracey, have been staying at a Ronald McDonald house near the hospital when she is stable, but Amanda was readmitted to the hospital Wednesday because of blood pressure problems

The unexpected illness has taken a toll on Amanda's family. Tracey, a single mother to Amanda, her twin sister, Jessica, and older brother, Jacob, 9, went back to school recently to finish a degree in social work. The family has lived with Tracey's parents, Dave and Pat Fox, while Tracey has worked on her education.

"Everything was so normal," Fox said. "It wasn't easy. With the combined household we were making adjustments, but things were flowing. Then all the sudden, it's like your whole life is turned upside down."

With Amanda's illness, Tracey left school in mid-semester and hasn't left her daughter's side during her illness. The University of Nevada, Reno social work program has been a wonder to work with, Fox said, but she doesn't "know what it's going to do to her schooling."

While Tracey recently qualified for Medicaid, Fox also wonders how her daughter will deal with the climbing medical and travel bills.

"The travel costs, the food, the medications, treatments are fantastically expensive," Fox said.

"The kids pray daily for God to bring back the old Amanda the way she was before she got sick and so (their) mother can come home, too."

The family has relied heavily on prayers from friends and family across the country, and members of Carson City's First Baptist Church are hosting a pancake breakfast and yard sale fund-raiser June 1, with proceeds to benefit the Stewart family.

Church member Al Christianson said the group has hopes of raising $10,000.

"We're all concerned about the well-being of the whole family," Christianson said. "It's just that we all hate to see a family torn apart by medial bills."

First Baptist Senior Pastor Dan Eddington said because clothing is hard to handle, the church won't accept clothing donations for the yard sale. Anything else, however, they're grateful to have and will be accepting items at the church.

"We as a church are trying to be a loving, supportive community, and we're trying to help out," Eddington said.


What: Pancake breakfast and yard sale fund-raiser for Amanda Stewart

When: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 1

Where: First Baptist Church, 1750 Mountain St.

Yard sale items may be dropped off at the First Baptist Church. No clothes, please.

Information: call 882-1851 or 883-4111


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