Flu leaves teen with rare disease, inability to walk - Toledo News Now, News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Flu leaves teen with rare disease, inability to walk

Max Clark and his mother Mary Max Clark and his mother Mary
TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) -

One family has been living a nightmare for the past year after their son got sick with the flu.

Mary Matuszewski-Clark says she prays every night that one day her son Max will be able to walk again. After he got the flu a year ago, Max's life came screeching to a halt.

"I went to wake him up," Mary explained. "He was unresponsive. His arms and legs were ice cold, he was having difficulty breathing."

The once-health 17-year-old spent the next 48 days in a coma. He is now in a wheelchair.

"How could this have happened? And how could it be so bad?" Mary asked. "For about four months he had his eyes closed. It was just, ‘Where's my son? I lost my son.'"

Max has acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), a rare immune condition that inflames the brain and spinal cord. ADEM usually occurs following a viral infection. It could take several years before Max is back on his feet.

 "I just kept saying, ‘You gonna be okay, Max,'" she said. "I had faith the whole time that God would get us through this and heal him and we would make it. And that's what's happening, little by little, he's coming back and we're grateful to God for that."

Mary says it takes hours to get Max to and from physical therapy, but a wheelchair-accessible van would make things easier.

The Have a Heart for Max Clark benefit will be held Feb. 8 at the Center for Alternative Physical Therapy. Donations will pay for a van. Donations can also be made at any Key Bank – mention the Mary Clark Fund.

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