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Family Improves Health of Ailing Children with Hyperbaric Chamber

Picture: Gerri Williams climbs into a soft-cloth hyperbaric chamber in her family room where daughter, Sydney, 8, waits. After years of deteriorating health, treatment in the hyperbaric chamber has changed what was a prognosis of death from complications of mitochondrial desease for Sydney and her brother Austin, 8.

By the time Scott and Gerri Williams brought their two young children to see Dr. Zahangir Khaled at his Methodist Medical Group Pediatric Gastroenterology practice in 2007, their lives were unraveling rapidly.

By the time Scott and Gerri Williams brought their two young children to see Dr. Zahangir Khaled at his Methodist Medical Group Pediatric Gastroenterology practice in 2007, their lives were unraveling rapidly.

Khaled was the fourth GI doctor the family had seen.

"Austin and Sydney had been typical, non-complicated pregnancies. But when Austin was 1 year old, he started regressing," said Gerri Williams.

She left her job as a registered nurse to care full time for their children, who were sick for long periods of time and regressing physically and academically. The family saw doctor after doctor trying to get a diagnosis for their mysterious illnesses. Today, Austin, 10, and Sydney, 8, are different children with an optimistic prognosis. Khaled is hoping their remarkable improvement can influence medical practice in the future.

Starting point

First, he prescribed probiotic supplements for the children to improve the beneficial bacteria in their digestive tracts. He also started them on an elimination diet, reducing foods that might be causing allergic reactions. Even so, the illnesses continued unabated.

Ultimately, the family ended up at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio where the children were diagnosed with mitochondrial disease. Austin had already been diagnosed with autism. "We were told most children with mitochondrial disease don't live past 10," Williams said, explaining the disease prevents cells from using food to generate the energy necessary for life.

Hospitalizations Continue

The children continued to deteriorate. In addition to regular trips to Peoria from their home outside Springfield to see Khaled, the family started coming to Peoria for more frequent hospitalizations. At one point, doctors were discussing putting the children on a ventilator to help them breathe and a feeding tube to get some nutrients into their bodies.

"We were meeting with Dr. Khaled constantly. It had gotten to the point Sydney couldn't sustain life anymore," Williams said.

Sydney was vomiting constantly and losing her hair. Both children had continual illnesses ranging from GI upsets to ear infections, eye infections and sinusitis. Austin was having seizures. Sydney had pneumonia three times in six months. Both children were listless and without energy.

Finding Hope

Williams, meanwhile, was spending long hours searching the Internet looking for clues to explain what was happening. She stumbled across a glimmer of hope. "I was worried about talking to Dr. Khaled about what I found on the Internet. I asked his nurse first. How would he respond?" she said. The response was positive. Khaled encouraged the family to try hyperbaric treatment at the Wisconsin Integrative Hyperbaric Center outside Madison, Wis. Treatment there lasted the entire month of May 2009. Scott Williams took a leave from his job as a police officer in Chatham. The family moved up to Wisconsin for the month.

Original Source PJ Star

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