Born on March 18, 1998, Rachael Mira Albertson was a miracle to her parents, Josh and Shari, as indicated by her middle name. For most all of her young life, Rachael had a normal, healthy childhood. Like some children, doctors made the recommendation that she needed to have her tonsils and adenoids removed. Shortly after the surgery in 2004, we noticed the first signs that something was wrong.
Rachael suffered sudden and unexplained hearing loss. She began to complain about not being able to breathe. We also noticed subtle changes in her walk. We have been able to document that Rachael’s mitochondria were damaged when she received the anesthetic used during that surgery.
Our precious miracle passed away on December 16, 2008, at age 10.
Six months before she passed, we took Rachael to the doctor’s office for a problem she was having with swimmers ear. In a fluke referral, we unexpectedly learned about the mitochondrial damage to her brain, brain stem, heart, and lungs. She was soon diagnosed with “Leigh’s Syndrome.”
We spent months trying to find new “normals” for Rachael, even though her disease was progressing. Much time was lost in trying to convince the doctors that there must be a reason for the subtle changes, and when she was hospitalized for preventative care from the common cold, her disease progressed as a result of the care received and she passed away. Because so little is known about this disease, the care that Rachael received contributed to the acceleration of her mitochondrial damage. It is imperative that research is funded and the doctors are aware of the symptoms of mitochondrial disease and that they understand the treatment options available. We have formed this research fund so that families and children, such as Rachael, can be spared such tragedy.
Rachael was a sweet, loving, compassionate soul. She LOVED school and was an “A” student, in spite of all of her doctor appointments and missed days. She inspired everyone and brought out the best in those around her. She was a daughter, a sister, and a friend. It is tragic that a person who could have contributed so much kindness in this world is gone. Rabindranath Tagare wrote, “The Butterfly Counts Not Months But Moments, And Has Time Enough” to touch a life.
Please give to her research fund so a “miracle” can be discovered in Rachael’s memory.