Rare disease threatens life of Bay Area teen

Bay Area

SARATOGA (KRON) — 19-year-old Emilio Urrutia regained consciousness in November after slipping into a coma on Labor Day.

His mother, father, brothers and sister have never left his side.

“It’s been the toughest three months of my life,” Rene Urrutia said.

Rene Urrutia and his family live in South San Francisco but have been bouncing from hospital to hospital since his son became ill.

Rene works for UPS. Both he and his wife have taken leaves from work while Emilio recovers.

“A headache. He started off with a headache and he vomitted,” Rene said.

Rene said Emilio remained in a coma for two and a half months, undergoing four brain surgeries.

He was eventually diagnosed by a neurosurgeon with the rare autoimmune disease, Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis — or, ADEM.

That caused inflammation in the brain and fluid leaking into his spine.

Before all of this, he was a healthy man. Emilio graduated from El Camino High School where he played football for four years.

Since being hospitalized, he hadn’t spoken until around Thanksgiving.

“He finally woke up and started talking,” Rene said. “He had his full memory.”

Emilio is now receiving care at Saratoga Pediatric Sub-Acute where he’ll stay until beginning speech and physical therapy at Kaiser hospital in Vallejo next month.

An online campaign set-up in October to help the family has raised nearly $12,000 so far on GoFundMe.

The Urrutia’s are grateful for the help.

“If your kids are ever sick, or if anything ever, headache, anything — ever minor, don’t neglect it. Take it serious,” Rene said. “This started with a headache and my son has been in a coma ever since. So, even I didn’t think it was that serious when my wife brought him to the emergency, and now here we are four months later.”

The Urrutia’s said only one in a quarter million people are diagnosed with ADEM.

A disease that can sometimes develop into multiple sclerosis.

But they have tremendous faith and believe Emilio will make a full recovery.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Tracking COVID-19 in the Bay Area

Trending Stories

Latest News

More News