Sarah Chalke’s son Charlie is only three, but his medical saga has already inspired a recent episode of Grey’s Anatomy, which aired on March 28 and featured Sarah Chalke as a guest star.
She told Wonderwall that the response to the television episode from other parents has been overwhelming. Calling it “obviously the hardest thing I’ve gone through,” Chalke explained that Charlie suffered from a rare and difficult to diagnose condition called Kawasaki disease.
Clarke and the child’s father, fiancé James Afifi, struggled alone for a year and a half. Until Chalke attended a November fundraiser, she’d never met another parent of a Kawasaki patient.
Therefore, the Grey’s Anatomy episode seemed like a great way to raise awareness. Parents are often in and out of emergency or other treatment centers when their child first gets sick, because doctors may not immediately recognize the little-known condition.
Kawasaki disease is an immune condition that causes arteries throughout the body to become inflamed. Because the coronary arteries are affected, the disease can damage the heart if left untreated. Other symptoms, like peeling skin and high fevers, can also terrify both parents and young patients like Sarah Chalke’s son.
Chalke’s new ABC show, How to Live with Your Parents for the Rest of Your Life, premiered on Wednesday, April 3.
Although Charlie is now healthy and doesn’t have heart damage, he was frequently on the set with his mother. Chalke recently revealed that co-star Brad Garrett and her young son “just kind of fell in love, it was the sweetest thing.”
Although not normally a hugger, Charlie apparently loved to hug Garrett. The star liked Charlie too and gave him a toy backhoe loader for the tot’s birthday — exactly what the little boy was hoping for.
Despite his rocky start in life, Sarah Chalke’s son will grow up as a television insider.