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Disease

American teacher in Thailand woke up paralysed after developing rare autoimmune disease

  • Caroline Bradner, a 22-year-old recent graduate of the University of Mississippi, was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome just before Christmas
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 January, 2019, 9:27am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 January, 2019, 1:40pm

A Virginia family is scrambling to get their loved one back to the United States after she developed a rare autoimmune disease that left her paralysed in Thailand, her sister said.

Caroline Bradner, a 22-year-old recent graduate of the University of Mississippi, was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) just before Christmas, according to a GoFundMe page. She was in the Southeast Asian country teaching English and trying to “make a difference in this world”.

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Pierce Bradner said her sister Caroline has been “improving, but is still paralysed” from the neck down and has a long road to recovery ahead.

Most people who develop GBS make a full recovery, although symptoms can last for a few weeks, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention reported. The rare disorder causes the immune system to attack the nerves. An estimated 3,000 to 6,000 people develop GBS each year, according to the CDC.

Bradner woke up in her flat in Thailand on December 22 and was unable to move. A friend took her to the hospital, where doctors performed blood tests and learned it was GBS.

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Her mother quickly flew out to meet her, but getting her home has proved to be a difficult task. Insurance denied the family’s request for transport to bring her back to Richmond, Pierce Bradner said.

“She will require a nurse and special seating on the aeroplane to make the trip home as well as future hospitalisation and physical rehabilitation,” Bradner wrote on the GoFundMe page. “This fund is to make sure that Caroline can get home and receive the best possible care.”

Her dad told WTVR that Bradner’s international career move wasn’t a surprise.

“She has that tenacious spirit that she wants to go out there and try something new,” Jim Bradner told the outlet.

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Bradner reportedly left in October and spent the last two months teaching English.

“It was inspiring to me that she wanted to do this,” Jim Bradner said. “But it was scary too, because she’s exactly on the other side of the globe.”

Caroline Bradner’s mother will stay with her in Thailand until the family is able to get both of them home.