Maddie’s Mission, a Katy-based organization dedicated to educating people about a common virus that can cause a serious infection in your unborn baby, recently donated more than $40,000 to the CMV Research Fund to benefit congenital CMV research conducted at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital.
Hundreds of children with a diagnosis of congenital CMV, or cytomegalovirus, are part of the program led by pediatric infectious diseases specialist Dr. Gail Demmler-Harrison, an international expert who has spent more than 30 years caring for children affected by the condition.
CMV infections can be prevented during pregnancy, a vulnerable time to catch CMV, through “an ounce of CMV awareness and three simple precautions that include not sharing food or drink with a young child, avoiding kissing young children near the lips or cheek but rather kiss them on top of the head and giving them a big hug, and washing hands carefully after changing diapers or wiping runny noses,” Demmler-Harrison said, adding that Maddie’s Mission promotes “knowledge is key to no more CMV.”
Awareness of the potentially deadly virus is the goal of Maddie’s Mission, which was started by Farah and Patrick Armstrong last year after they lost their 12-day-old daughter, Maddie, to complications caused by CMV. Since then, the Armstrongs have thrown themselves into educating people about CMV and supporting groups devoted to finding out more about the virus, how to treat it, and possibly how to prevent CMV in pregnant women.
Physicians at Texas Children’s Hospital have treated many children affected by congenital CMV. One such child, who is shown in the adjoining photo, is Malcolm Alaimo. Malcolm travels from South Carolina for special treatments and is doing well. Another child Texas Children’s physicians have treated for CMV is Lillian Grace Salerno. Lillian has gotten antiviral treatment, hemispherectomy brain surgery, and other therapies for her congenital CMV infection at Texas Children’s Hospital, and has done well ever since.
“CMV is the most common virus most people have never heard of,” Dr. Demmler-Harrison said. “It does not often make the headlines or the evening news.”
Demmler-Harrison added that she is extremely appreciative to Maddie’s Mission for its donation and that it will be put to good use.