Boy Left Paralyzed By Polio-Like Disease Walks Again After Nerve Transplant Surgery

A 6-year-old once thought never to walk again is given the best early Christmas gift.

Little boy with backpack walks down the sidewalk.
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A 6-year-old once thought never to walk again is given the best early Christmas gift.

When 6-year-old Brandon Noblitt began showing signs of a cold in August of 2016, his parents initially thought it was nothing to worry about. However, what started with a few sniffles progressed into head and neck pain. Then one morning, the little boy collapsed while trying to get out of bed. Upon taking their son to a doctor, Noblitt’s parents were given the shocking news that the boy had a rare disease called acute flaccid myelitis. Also known as AFM, the disease is similar to polio.

According to People, the Noblitts could hardly grasp how their seemingly healthy and active child had contracted an enterovirus that had attacked his spinal cord. The effects of the virus were devastating. Both the boy’s right arm and leg were completely paralyzed, leaving him depending on a wheelchair to get around. Doctors told his parents that Brandon would likely never walk again. Brandon’s father, Brian, recalls the horrible moment he learned that his son’s life had been forever changed.

“It was tough,” Noblitt told People. “It was one of those moments that you as a parent never want to be dealing with.”

However, Dr. Amy Moore, a surgeon at Washington University in St. Louis, offered the family hope they had been too afraid to wish for. Moore is the only doctor in the United States that will perform nerve transfers on the lower extremities of children suffering from AFM. She agreed to perform a procedure that would hopefully give Brandon some mobility back.

“My goal with the children with AFM was to restore hip stability, and then motion of the upper legs,” Dr. Moore said. “My intention is to give these families hope that there are options if they get this horrible diagnosis.”

Within only a few months of having the surgery, Brandon began to regain his ability to flex his leg. If this wasn’t miraculous enough, the boy began taking a few steps shortly after. Now the boy who was thought to never walk again is now able to play outside with his friends like normal. With the help of a brace and plenty of hard work, Brandon can now walk again. The only time he uses his wheelchair is to play football.

The now 8-year-old is thrilled at his progress and very grateful to Dr. Moore for having faith in him.

“It’s been amazing,” he said. “Thanks to Dr. Moore, I can go outside, play with my brothers, play football.”