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Article of Interest - Allergies

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A Good Reaction: Northwest Airlines KidCares Medical Travel Program Helps a Little Boy With Severe Atopic Dermatitis
Craig Kotilinek, NWA World Traveler Magazine
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Devin Weekley was born with atopic dermatitis (eczema). About 15 million people in the United States have eczema and itís generally not a cause for concern. But Devin was different.

By age 2, it started getting bad. Everyone thought it was just allergies. Then, during a span of two weeks, Devinís eczema got so bad that he couldnít walk. Betsy Weekley, his mother, had to push Devin around in a stroller at age 3.

In 2000, when Devin was 4 years old, the Weekleys took him to a dermatologist at the University of Michigan and enrolled him in a case study. Devin received the best drugs available, and for a while, they did wonders for his condition. But, eventually, the drugs stopped working. He would scratch until he bled.

Betsy tried everything. As mold and dust mites were the only suspected culprits, she moved him into different bedrooms, got hardwood floors, kept no pets Ė did everything short of building a new house. But nothing worked.

Finally, she sent pictures of Devin to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., in hopes that they could help. They could, but she would have to get there first. Betsy, a mother of three, did not have the money for plane tickets. She had all but given up hope when a friend who was using Northwest Airlines WorldPerks miles saw a donation advertisement. Before Betsy contacted KidCares, she and Devin, who was 9 at the time, had accepted the fact that they wouldnít be able to get to their appointment. To their surprise, KidCares was able to help.

While they were waiting to board the plane, they happened to meet the pilot and accompanied him into the cockpit. Devin was thrilled that he was able to wear the pilotís hat and talk on the p.a. system. ďI was amazed at how wonderful everyone was,Ē Betsy says, ďand they didnít know where we got our tickets, or why we got them. But everyone was just so nice.Ē

Devin is now on a series of medications developed by Mayo that keeps his immune system from fighting against his treatments. A chemical involved in the making of paper and film development was causing Devinís reactions, and they are working to eliminate that chemical from Devinís environment. After years of wondering what caused their sonís reactions, the Weekleys are finally getting closer to finding come answers.

(Northwest Airlines created the KidCares medical travel program as part of its AirCares charitable assistance commitment. KidCares provides air travel to children 18 and younger (and one parent or guardian) who are unable to receive treatment near their home.)


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