Meet Kid Captain Eve Jimenez
Eve Jimenez survived a rare autoimmune disorder as a 4-year-old – and the same condition four years later – with the help of University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.
“She had a fever and she couldn't walk or talk,” Eve’s mother, Lindsey, recalls of Eve’s first incident. “We were not really sure what was going on."
“It started with her eyes,” she adds. “Her eye was droopy and I didn't understand why.”
A CT scan didn’t reveal anything, and the Davenport family was referred to a pediatric eye doctor, who suggested an MRI.
“They told me ‘no,’” Lindsey says of their local doctor’s office. “They said, ‘we can't just order an MRI.’ Then, Eve had gotten a little bit sicker to the point where she was walking into the walls.”
Lindsey took Eve back to the local hospital’s emergency room, where they ran more tests, but were sent home with no diagnosis.
“That same night when we came home, she got sick and she got a fever, and she was just diminishing,” Lindsey recalls. “So, we took her, again, back to the hospital that night, and I remember just crying in the office. I begged them to please, do something.”
The hospital admitted Eve and conducted an MRI, but the doctor said she would be discharged. In the meantime, Lindsey had recorded Eve’s symptoms.
“He came up and he looked at the videos,” Lindsey remembers. “He looked at me and he said, ‘I agree with you. Something is very wrong. I just can't make a diagnosis,’ and he sent us home.”
“We came home that night and she ended up choking after she drank some water,” Lindsey says. “She couldn't swallow anymore.”
She and her husband, Auggi, drove Eve to UI Stead Family Children's Hospital that night, where they met with a neurology team the next morning.
“I just knew that they were a children's hospital,” Lindsey says. “I knew that I needed to get somewhere else that could give me the answers I needed.”
Tests showed Eve had lesions on her spine and brain.
She was diagnosed with acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, or ADEM, a disorder in which the immune system attacks the brain – and sometimes the spinal cord and optic nerves – damaging the myelin, the protective covering of nerve fibers. Often, ADEM follows an infection.
The condition is rare, affecting one in every 125,000 to 250,000 people.
Eve received steroid treatment at the hospital, which continued at home, and her health improved. This February, however, she became sick again.
“She had a real bad headache and a fever,” Lindsey recalls.
When she couldn't walk once again, Lindsey suspected ADEM, but “usually, once you have it, you have it and that's it,” she says.
She drove Eve to their local hospital emergency room.
Her condition diminished within 20 minutes, so Lindsey called UI Stead Family Children's Hospital. Experts there consulted with the local doctors and Eve was flown to Iowa City, where she was diagnosed with multiphasic ADEM, meaning the condition recurred.
Eve’s recurrent ADEM was due to MOG antibody-associated disease, a neurological disorder characterized by inflammation in the optic nerve, spinal cord, and brain.
Eve fought back from her second bout with ADEM and receives infusion treatments to suppress her immune system. Now 8 and in third grade, she enjoys dance class and other activities.