ARDMORE, AL (WAFF) - The lives of the Witherow's changed drastically when 7-year-old Robert became ill in December. Stacey Witherow is Robert's dad.
"He had had a fever the week before. It had run for two or three days. The temperature would go up and down. It spiked at 105 one night and we called the pediatrician," Stacey said.
Doctors suggested acetaminophen and ibuprofen and the fever broke, but days later, Robert was lethargic - wanting to sleep for long periods. The doctors thought he was just getting over the flu.
He and his older brother were both home sick with their mom when Stacey got a call at work from Robert's older brother.
"The next thing I knew, he was on the phone with me at work, telling me Robert had a seizure. I rushed home and I got here just as the ambulance was leaving," he said.
At the hospital there were more questions than answers until a definitive diagnosis came: F.I.R.E.S. (Febrile Infection-Related Epilepsy Syndrome) - a one in a million condition.
Research indicates each child is a couple of days past a high fever when constant, hard seizures begin.
"They didn't think he would swallow, regulate his own temperature, be able to breathe on his own. And he, in short order, began doing all those things, so we're hoping the doctors are wrong again," added Stacey.
The family said they were very surprised to find out just how quickly this community responded to their needs.
"We were incredibly blessed to live in a community like Ardmore," Stacey said. "There is no way this didn't prepare us for the outpouring, the generosity of spirit that neighbors and friends in the community; it has truly been overwhelming. Just blessed is the only thing I can say and we're just grateful."
There have been many fund raisers to pay for expensive equipment, diapers, and the nourishment Robert must take through a tube.
Stacey was working two jobs before his son's illness. One employer refused to give him a leave of absence, so he lost that position, but his night job at Papa John's will allow him to return.
There are financial needs as Robert shows signs of improvement. Hopes are high that Robert will continue to improve and the generosity of others will continue.
If you are interested in helping this family financially, contact any First National Bank of Ardmore or Athens or any Redstone Federal Credit Union.