Above: Erika Thompson and Trevor Hazard with their children, Bryson (left) and Isaiah, at Frank & John’s on Main Street.

By Aiza Shaikh

In September 2018, Isaiah Hazard was a brand new kindergartener at Frenchtown Elementary School when he came down with a mysterious illness that left him with polio-like paralysis, terrified parents, and a long road of recovery. 

Today, Isaiah is again in kindergarten at Frenchtown, and doing better. 

His was one of a number of cases reported in recent years of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), a rare condition that damages nerves, weakening the body’s muscles. The disease is similar to polio. It affects just 1 in 1 million children. Less than 600 cases have been reported, and Isaiah’s is only the second in Rhode Island. Each case is slightly different, making treatment difficult. And there is no specific cure.

Isaiah in the hospital last year.

Isaiah spent months at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, then more months at Franciscan Children’s Home, a rehabilitation center in Brighton, Mass. He came home in May. 

It’s been a tough time for Isaiah and his family.

“From having a perfectly healthy child one day to having him paralyzed from the neck down and on a vent was extremely difficult to accept. Our lives were flipped upside down,” said Erika Thompson, Isaiah’s mom. 

Isaiah has made great progress over the past year, but the left portion of his diaphragm is still paralyzed and his muscles remain weak. 

Even though he’s back home, Isaiah still goes to physical therapy after school. He moves around using a gait trainer, a device that assists with walking. He also has a trach tube in his neck that helps him to breathe. 

Isaiah Hazard at the August Main Street Stroll with his parents and younger brother Bryson.

Despite the challenges, Isaiah has maintained a positive attitude. 

“He’s been through a lot, but he stays pretty positive. He’s very happy still. His personality is bubbly and his funniness is still there,” said Thompson. 

Isaiah enjoys watching sports games and playing the video game Fortnite. He is a big fan of the Boston Bruins. 

Earlier this week, Isaiah had surgery on his right leg. Soon he will be downsizing his trach tube, from a 4.0 mm size to a 3.5 mm. Doctors will continue to downsize the trach tube until he no longer needs one. 

While there is no definite prognosis, Isaiah may eventually be able to walk on his own again. His family remains hopeful that lots of therapy will help him reach that goal sooner. 

Reporter Aiza Shaikh is a junior at East Greenwich High School.


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