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FOX Medical Team

Twin girls survive brush with E.coli

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ATLANTA -

Two 5-year-old Druid Hills twins are survivors of a frightening brush with a deadly type of E.coli infection.

Grace and Julia Blanchard spent the first five years of their lives almost impossibly healthy.      
       
So, when Grace missed their birthday party in early January with severe cramping and diarrhea, Rick and Sara Blanchard were stunned to find out that she had contracted E.coli 0157.

"We were scared.  We were very concerned," said Rick Blanchard.
 
Grace was in pain and distant.

"You couldn't really talk with her.  She was so -- it was like she was doped up, but she hadn't had any medicine," said Sara Blanchard. "And then at the same time that was happening, Julia had gone down."
 
With both twins very sick, the Blanchards took them the emergency room at Chlldren's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite.

"Had them on fluids from the minute we stepped into the hospital, and were drawing blood, taking blood, doing blood tests three times a day," said Rick Blanchard.

Kidney specialist Dr. Larry Greenbaum could see both girls were developing a severe complication of E.coli 0157 called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome. Toxins from the bacteria were pouring into their bloodstream, destroying their blood cells and threatening their kidneys.
 
"This is a disease where we do not have a magic therapy. Most of our treatment is supportive," said Greenbaum.
 
The twins were placed in adjoining hospital rooms.

"They didn't see each other for four days, which is the longest in their lives," Sara Blanchard said.

Both girls needed three transfusions to stabilize their blood counts.

"They'd go down and then come up and go back down, and they'd come back up," Rick Blanchard said.
 
Grace stabilized first, then, slowly, so did Julia.  

The Blanchards may never know how and where the girls contracted E.coli 0157.
    
"And of course people don't remember what their kids ate three days ago, seven days ago, 10 days ago," Greenbaum said.

Yet, instead of shaking their faith, the Blanchards says the scare gave them faith in the kind of care available here in their hometown.

"We realize how lucky we are to have the incredible resource that is Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.  That place was fantastic," Rick Blanchard said.

Julia and Grace have fully-recovered.

When you hear about E.coli outbreaks in the news, they usually involve multiple people, and can be tied back to a restaurant, or tainted beef or produce.

Dr. Greenbaum said that most of the time, if there is not a big group of cases, they're never able to find the source of the illness.

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