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Fund-Raisers Planned for Gaby, 8

Another week has passed, and young Gaby Saavedra of Centreville remains in a coma at Children's Hospital in Washington, D.C. And unfortunately, doctors there still don't know the cause of her mysterious illness.

GABY, 8 1/2, is a rising third-grader at London Towne Elementary. She and her father Edwin, mother Fidelia and sister Annie, 7, rent a townhouse in the London Towne community.

And although money was always tight for the Saavedras, originally from Bolivia, they were a happy, healthy and close-knit family. But on July 14, Gaby began running a fever and having pains in her head and neck.

A doctor advised her parents to give her fluids, but her condition quickly worsened. And when she woke up, the next morning, she had a seizure. After a week of tests at Inova Fair Oaks Hospital, she was transferred July 22 to Children's Hospital.

And there, in the Intensive Care Unit, doctors placed Gaby into a medically induced coma in hopes of stopping the seizures. "They put her brain to rest," said her father. "They're giving her lots of medications and trying to figure out if the swelling in her brain has gone down."

Although doctors had hoped to keep her in a coma for just a week, her illness has prevented them from doing so. Carol Trujillo, of the Rocky Run community, is looking after Annie while her parents are at Gaby's bedside, and Edwin Saavedra keeps her informed about what's happening at the hospital.

"Gaby's condition is still the same," said Trujillo, Tuesday night. "She's still in a coma. When they tried to bring her out, the seizures re-started. So they put her back under and they'll let her sleep for another week."

BESIDES TEACHERS and staff at London Towne Elementary, people at Cub Run Elementary are also pulling for this normally sweet and lively girl to get better. Administrative Assistant Pam Dutrow was saddened, last week, to learn what had happened to Gaby. And she recalled her fondly as a former student in Cub Run's Head Start program.

Gaby has also captured the hearts of the local community, and those who know her and her family are keeping them in their thoughts and prayers. There are other ways to help, as well, and people may send monetary contributions or attend either of two, upcoming fund-raisers:

* Because neither parent has been able to work since Gaby took sick, a fund has been established to help the family with her medical bills. Tax-deductible donations payable to Gabriella Saavedra may be sent to her c/o Chevy Chase Bank, 5613 Stone Road, Centreville, VA 20120.

* This Saturday, Aug. 6, from noon-6 p.m., the London Towne Homeowners Association will hold a festival at Picadilly Park, on Stone Road, in the field to the left of London Towne Elementary. The London Towne PTA will have a table there where people may make contributions.

* The following Saturday, Aug. 13, from 9 a.m.-noon, a car wash will be held at the Centreville Square Mobil Station at Centrewood and St. Germain drives, off Route 29 in Centreville. All proceeds will go to Gaby's account at Chevy Chase Bank.