“In 1960 a little girl called Debbie Garrett was living happily in San Tome, Venezuela. She had two younger sisters, the younger one being just six months old. One day she started complaining about her legs hurting and then started having problems breathing. The San Tome hospital was very good, but could not cope with this. She had had the complete Salk and Sabin immunization in Miami, so we felt it could not be polio.
After flying with her father to Miami she was hospitalized in Variety Children’s Hospital. In those days communication was very difficult, and I only heard a few days later how serious it was. I flew to Miami with my two little ones not really knowing what I would find. My dear mother flew out from England to be with me and she was my lifeline, with a three year old and a small baby.
After being diagnosed with Guillain Barre syndrome, Debbie was in isolation. Guillain Barre a serious disorder that occurs when the body's defense (immune) system mistakenly attacks part of the nervous system. This leads to nerve inflammation that causes muscle weakness. Debbie had a tracheotomy and would be on a respirator for two months and couldn’t walk. Her nurses and doctors were wonderful. Her day nurse was Joanie Springer and her doctor was Dr. Gunnard Antell— both of whom became great friends. Dr. Antell would walk into her room and ask “Who is here today Debbie or Suzy?” Debbie was when she was happy and Suzy was when she was not. Upon receiving excellent physiotherapy she learned to walk again and finally came home to us and we returned to Venezuela. Her first question to her sister was “Did you cry when you heard I was sick?” She is now a vibrant fifty five year old with a handsome son of twenty one. Now that is a happy success story. Heartfelt thanks to Variety Children's Hospital, now Nicklaus Children's Hospital.”
-Deborah, New York, New York