Boy, 4, Undergoes Surgery for 'Terrifying' Polio-Like Illness That Left Him Partially Paralyzed

A 4-year-old boy in Minnesota underwent surgery to restore movement to his right arm after he was diagnosed with a rare, polio-like condition.

Orville Young of Minneapolis is recovering after undergoing the invasive nerve transfer surgery at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Philadelphia just months after contracting acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), which affects a person’s nervous system and causes weakness in the arms or legs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Orville’s mother, Elaine Young, spoke to local news station KSTP ahead of the surgery, admitting that she was feeling “anxious.”

“He’s going to be under general anesthesia for a long time, and that’s kind of terrifying,” Elaine said.

While it will likely take months for Orville to recover completely, Elaine was relieved when the procedure was over.

“It’s over. That’s the best part. It’s done with,” Elaine said after the surgery. “Just gonna go snuggle my baby.”

Orville came down with what appeared to be a simple cold last July, according to Minnesota’s Star Tribune. Soon he lost the use of his right arm, suffered immobility in his legs, and even experienced trouble breathing. Doctors at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital quickly diagnosed the boy with AFM.

Over the next few months, Orville went through physical rehabilitation at Gillette Children’s Specialty Services in St. Paul and regained most of his leg function, the Star Tribune reported.

Now with the surgery behind him, Orville is expected to get his cast off in a few weeks and return to the Philadelphia hospital for a check-up in six months, according to KSTP.

“I hope that he can put a cup in a cupboard; that he can put his own shirt on easily and he can open doors without struggling,” Elaine told the station. “The little things that in your day to day life are important.”

Less than one in a million people are diagnosed with AFM in the United States each year, according to the CDC. From August 2014 to August 2018, a total of 362 cases of AFM from across the U.S. have been identified. In rare cases, AFM can result in death.

The majority of those affected are children under the age of 10, and there is no clear cause behind the spread since 2014, the CDC reported. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, symptoms include sudden muscle weakness in the arms or legs, sometimes following a respiratory illness, neck weakness or stiffness, drooping eyelids or a facial droop, and difficulty swallowing or slurred speech.

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