YORKTOWN, N.Y.-Zachary Lebid, a track and field athlete, a musician and a top student, had his high school career thrown off course last month when he was diagnosed with a neurological disorder.
In mid-December, the Yorktown High School junior started experiencing mental confusion, was having difficulty focusing at school and struggled to play the trumpet, which he has been playing for years, said Zachary’s parents, Elizabeth and Larry Lebid. Ultimately, Zachary started having trouble speaking and walking. His parents were advised to bring Zachary to the emergency room at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Valhalla. There, he was diagnosed with autoimmune encephalitis.
“Basically, his immune system was fighting a foreign invader, possibly a virus, sometimes a tumor (but not in his case), and it started attacking his brain, thus causing the inflammation,” his parents explained in an email.
During his four weeks at the children’s hospital, Zachary underwent numerous procedures and treatments: intravenous immunoglobulin infusion, plasmapheresis and intravenous steroids. Today, the inflammation is reduced and the bad antibodies his body was producing have been removed, his parents said.
Zachary is currently undergoing inpatient rehabilitation at Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Valhalla, where he will receive intensive occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy.
“While this came on so suddenly, the damage to his brain will take months to heal,” his parents said. “Most kids with autoimmune encephalitis make a full recovery. So, with inpatient rehab then outpatient rehab and some medicines, we are looking for a full recovery for our son.”
Nevertheless, an online fundraiser to help defray medical costs and treatments has been organized by friends of the Lebid family. As of press time, $4,510 had been donated by 68 people toward the $8,000 goal.
“We love our community in Yorktown so much,” Elizabeth and Larry Lebid said. “His friends have come to visit him nonstop and their parents have supplied trays of food and moral support. We love our town!”
Donations can be made by visiting gofundme.com/get-zach-on-track.
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