<bt>Since July 22, Gabriella Saavedra, 8 and-a-half, has been in the Intensive Care Unit of Children's Hospital in Washington, D.C., fighting against a mysterious illness.
But the Centers for Disease Control have now analyzed a sample of her spinal fluid and identified what was causing her problems, a disease so rare that only six other cases are known. The CDC sent medication, and her condition is improving according to Carol Trujillo of Centerville, a friend who is caring for Gaby's younger sister Annie, 7, while their parents are at the hospital.
"We are really rejoicing at this good news," said Trujillo, who described Gaby's parents as excited and pleased. Gaby, she said, is responding to the new medication. Her seizures have diminished, her eyes are open, and she is answering questions with nods. When her parents played her a portion of a dance video, Trujillo said she tried to move her limbs.
A rising third-grader at London Towne Elementary, Gaby took sick July 14 with a fever and neck and head pains. Soon, she began having seizures and was rushed to Inova Fair Oaks Hospital and later transferred to Children's Hospital.
There, doctors medically induced a coma to prevent further seizures and hopefully avoid brain damage. But whenever they tried to bring her out of it, Gaby would suffer another seizure and they had to put her back into a coma.
Neither parent has been able to work since Gaby has been in the hospital, so finances were tight and medical bills loomed. To help, the local community established a bank account for Gaby to pay the medical bills and also planned fund-raisers. That account now holds over $10,000. Trujillo said the parents have received further good news and have learned that Gaby now qualifies for Medicare.
Here are ways to help:
* Fitness Together, a Chantilly gym, is holding a fund-raising "Go the Mile for Gaby" weight-loss challenge for six weeks, beginning Sept. 1. Call 571-323-2223.
* A bake sale will be held Saturday, Sept. 17, from 9 a.m.-noon, in front of the Stone Road Giant Foods store in Centreville.
* Tax-deductible donations to the fund toward Gaby's medical bills, payable to Gabriella Saavedra, may be sent to her c/o Chevy Chase Bank, 5613 Stone Road, Centreville, VA 20120.