Virginia Teacher, 22, Who Woke Up Paralyzed by Rare Disease While Living in Thailand Is Coming Home

Caroline Bradner — a teacher from Virginia living in Thailand — will now be flown back to the United States more than two weeks after she began to experience symptoms of a rare condition that eventually left her paralyzed just before Christmas.

“Thanks to the outpouring support and the attention from social media we have just learned that the travel insurance company has agreed to get Caroline home,” wrote a family member in an update on a GoFundMe page set up to raise funds to fly the 22-year-old back home. “We will utilize all funds for her medical costs and rehabilitation. If there are any additional funds they will be donated to GBS/CIDP Foundation International.”

On December 22, Caroline — who had moved to Thailand in October to teach English — found herself unable to move after waking up. She was then driven to a local hospital by a friend and diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a rare autoimmune disease in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the nerves, causing symptoms such as muscle weakness that eventually leads to paralysis.

Thousands of miles away, Caroline’s family worked to raise money to pay for a stretcher flight from Thailand back to the U.S., and were able to raise more than $76,000 from nearly a thousand donors on their GoFundMe page after insurance denied their request for transportation home.

While GBS can often be temporary, the process is extremely slow and can take weeks, months or even years for patients to make a full recovery.

“She is improving, but is still paralyzed and it looks like this will be a long recovery, lasting from months to years,” Caroline’s sister wrote on their donation page. “Our Mom was able to fly out on Christmas Eve to be with her and will stay in Thailand until we can get them both home.”

A video posted to the GoFundMe page shows Caroline making small improvements in her mobility, such as being able to shift her left arm back and forth and move her right thumb.

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“We see improvements every day,” Caroline’s father, Jim Bradner, told ABC 8. “They may be small improvements.”

Fortunately, Caroline is staying positive despite her situation.

“Her being in Thailand has totally changed her outlook on life,” Bradner told the new station. “She says the people there are incredible, always happy. I think she wants to live like that. She has a great positive attitude. She wants to get home. So she’s trying to do anything physical, physical therapy she can do to get home.”

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