Young woman who has dedicated her life to helping others is now in need of help herself
Mikaela Aschoff is a bright, beautiful young woman who just celebrated her 20th birthday. She has a loving family, a fiancé and keeps busy running a charity called Mik’s Hidden Hearts Alliance for chronically ill youth which she started in 2011. At first glance, you might think, here’s a girl who has it all. But, Mikaela suffers from dysautonomia, which she describes as an often debilitating, “hidden illness” that is a malfunction of the autonomic nervous system. It can cause fainting, widespread pain, extreme exhaustion and more.
On May 22, just two days after her 20th birthday, Mikaela had another unexpected fainting episode. As she fell, Mikaela hit her head on the tile floor, resulting in a concussion and a cervical sprain. Mik’s mother Keri Aschoff, said, “Mikaela has passed out or collapsed hundreds of times since she first fell ill in 2010, mostly injuring her knees and arms. By some miracle, she has only directly hit her head three times causing major concussions, which is three too many in my book.”
Mikaela has dreams of living an independent life, and of someday being able to walk down the aisle and stand at her own wedding without assistance. The Aschoff family holds strongly to their faith in God and has been praying for a miracle. Keri said, “My girl can NOT take many more of these no-warning fainting episodes. Her head can NOT take another concussion. Something has to change to give her a chance to live a regular life.”
The miracle the Aschoffs have been hoping for may be within reach. A promising stem cell treatment is available through Celltex Therapeutics Corporation in Houston. With this procedure, Mikaela would receive an infusion of her own stem cells. Results for other dysautonomia patients have been very promising. The treatment is not covered by insurance and it is an expensive prospect. The amount needed is approximately $50,000.
The good news is Mikaela is half way there. After trying every available dysautonomia treatment for the past five years, including often painful monthly ivig infusions, the most recent fainting episode was the final step that encouraged Keri to set up a Go Fund Me site, Need Miracle for Mikaela, to help cover expenses for the stem cell treatment. In less than two weeks, almost $25,000 has been donated. You can help by sharing her story and donating here: https://www.gofundme.com/25knwyzw.
Mikaela was diagnosed with dysautonomia in her freshman year of high school, and her life has never been the same. Mikaela’s mother, Keri Aschoff remembers:
On October 23, 2010, Mikaela was a perfectly healthy freshman in high school attending her first homecoming dance. An hour into her much anticipated evening, Mikaela unexpectedly collapsed on the dance floor and from there her entire life changed in a moment. She was unable to stand or walk without assistance. On most days, she was bound to a wheelchair. After searching for answers, we were lucky to find doctors who are experts in her condition. She was diagnosed with a severe case of dysautonomia. Ultimately, she had to go on homebound for the remainder of her high school years.
Dysautonomia is a disease that attacks the autonomic nervous system, which controls all the automatic bodily functions. Dysautonomia is unpredictable, with symptoms that vary in severity but can be debilitating. It can cause fainting, extremely low blood pressure, tachycardia, chest pain, fatigue, heart palpitations, weakness, migraines, gastrointestinal problems, vision problems, cognitive impairment and seizure-like episodes. Living with this disease means frequent hospitalizations, a litany of prescriptions drugs, physical therapy, good days and bad days. Presently, there is no cure.
Mikaela’s charity, Mik’s Hidden Hearts Alliance, or MHHA, gives hope to teens and young adults who, like Mik, have dysautonomia and other life-changing chronic illnesses. They send care packages called “hope kits” to hospitalized or home-bound teens as well as provide support groups and social events.
Every April, MHHA has a Prom for these teens, which has come to be known as the Anti-Prom. For teens who don’t have the ability to dance, the Anti-Prom is a fun evening where they can dress up, enjoy a delicious dinner, casino games and prizes. It’s a chance to hang out with other teens and forget about doctor visits, medicines and being sick for one night. Many of these kids are unable to attend the Prom at their own school because of too many absences. People travel from all over Texas and the U.S. to come to the Anti-Prom. Prom tickets, dresses and prizes are donated so the only cost for the teens who attend would be their travel expenses.
For more information about Mik’s Hidden Hearts Alliance visit www.MiksHiddenHearts.org