Meet Isaiah Wortham


Isaiah was just a toddler when he fell ill with a high fever and began having seizures. He was rushed to Arkansas Children’s Hospital, where he was diagnosed with roseola followed by encephalitis. 

Roseola is a common childhood illness that usually occurs in children 12 to 20 months of age. It starts with a high fever followed by a rash.But encephalitis following roseola is rare. Encephalitis is a serious condition in which the brain becomes inflamed, causing seizures and other complications. Isaiah is only the 43rd person ever to be diagnosed with encephalitis following roseola.

According to Isaiah’s mom Jennifer, it was a very scary time. “My child was completely normal, then ‘boom!’ He had seizures for four straight days. Isaiah was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit at ACH where they worked to bring down his fever. For two weeks, they couldn’t tell us if he would live.”
Isaiah remained at ACH for 10 weeks, during which an exhausted Jennifer never left his side. She says, “He couldn’t sleep. The only thing that would calm him was rocking him. So that’s what I did.”

Because of the trauma to Isaiah’s brain, his doctors were concerned he’d never walk, talk or even eat. But Jennifer was determined this wouldn’t be her son’s fate. “Within two weeks of his release from the hospital, he was sitting up! Now, at 14, he walks everywhere, jabbers all the time and eats like a pig,” she says with a smile.

Physically, Isaiah is perfectly healthy and visits the dentist at ACH regularly. Developmentally and mentally, Isaiah is in the 3-year-old range, but that doesn’t slow him down. He is outgoing and full of life. His favorite activity is watching game shows, especially Deal or No Deal. He also enjoys horseback riding, Cabbage Patch dolls—his “beebies“— riding 4-wheelers and shopping for shoes. 

Jennifer is excited Isaiah was chosen to be an Ambassador for the hospital she loves. She says, “Isaiah is a walking miracle. He’ll get to meet people, and we will tell his story. I hope it encourages families going through something similar, and they’ll come away with a better understanding what the amazing team at ACH can do.”

Jennifer works as a registered nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at ACH. She says, “My experience with Isaiah at ACH made me want to work here. It was a chance to give back to the hospital that gave me so much.”

She adds, “I’m very proud of Isaiah. He humbles me every day. Don’t feel sorry for me because I’m the one who’s blessed. Every day, Isaiah makes us stronger and more thankful for what we have.”

Donate in honor of Isaiah by visiting his fundraising page here. Until no child needs us, we need you.

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