Brady Sterchi was born on March 23rd, 2007. His fight against Mitochondrial Disease started in infancy but wasn’t diagnosed until right after his 2nd birthday. He was diagnosed with mitochondrial myopathy, encephalopathy, lactic acidosis, and stroke (MELAS) syndrome which is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder. Brady suffered a stroke at 23 months of age. His temperature was 106.3 and his blood sugar was at 10. He was having uncontrolled seizures and was put in a medically induced coma for 9 days.
“Mito” as we call it, is a progressive disease that occurs when the mitochondria of our cells fail to produce energy for organ function, leading to organ failure; therefore, it can affect the whole body. In Brady’s case, his brain is affected. After his initial strokes, Brady couldn’t do the things he was doing before. He had to relearn how to hold up his head, crawl, walk and everything in between. When Brady came home from the hospital, he was having numerous seizures a day and essentially was like a 6 week old. He was fed through an NG tube until it was decided within a couple months to have a gastrostomy tube for nutrition placed. Today, Brady’s seizures are controlled with medication and he is 100% tube fed.
Mitochondrial diseases result from the failures of the mitochondria, specialized compartments present in every cell of the body except red blood cells. Mitochondria are responsible for creating more that 90% of the energy needed by the body to sustain life and support growth. When they fail, less energy is generated within the cells. Cell injury and even cell death follow. When this process is repeated, whole systems begin to fail and the person’s life is compromised. Diseases of the mitochondria appear to cause the most damage to cells of the brain, heart, liver, skeletal muscles, kidney and endocrine and respiratory systems. Depending on which cells are affected, symptoms can differ. Brady’s symptoms include: problems with motor control, sensory issues, swallowing difficulties, poor growth, vomiting, respiratory complications, developmental delays and susceptibility to illnesses.
Each year, about 4000 children in the US are born with a mitochondrial disease and up to 2000 children will develop a mitochondrial disease by the age of 10. While exact numbers are complicated to determine, we know that the disease is being diagnosed more and more. Of all the children who are diagnosed with mitochondrial disease before the age of 5, like Brady, nearly 80% will not live to see their 20th birthday. Though this research fund, you can help.
Grants have supported research for one to three years at institutions across the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia. The UMDF Brady Sterchi Research Fund has co-funded the Research Project “A Human Reprogrammed-Cell Model of MELAS” at Sanford – Burnham Medical Research Institute. The insights into MELAS obtained from the results of this project thus far, along with ongoing efforts are expected to facilitate the development of novel effective therapies for this devastating disorder.
Please donate to the Brady Sterchi Research Fund and bring “Hope. Energy. Life” to Brady and all those affected by Mitochondrial Disease. Through research, the medical world will be able to help those affected with “Mito” win the battle.
We thank you for your love and support,
The Sterchi Family