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Laid up but still smiling

By Hayley Gastmeier

[email protected]

Grace Yeats’ spirits have not been diminished despite being laid up in Starship Hospital.

The 14-year-old from Carterton was flown to the Auckland children’s hospital on Tuesday afternoon, following an unusually high number of epileptic seizures.

But her mother Tracy says “she’s still talking and smiling”.

“She’s just very, very tired.”

Grace has a rare condition called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis.

She was just 10 when the illness came on suddenly, robbing her of her speech and movement.

Since starting medical cannabis late last year, Grace’s condition has been steadily improving.

However after a week’s stay in Masterton Hospital, the Chanel College student was flown up to Auckland.

Mrs Yeats said Grace was in a stable condition and it was not yet clear what was causing the seizures.

She said spasms for her daughter were common but epileptic seizers were short and infrequent these days.

“She does have the odd, random one, but not like she’s been having for the past six days.”

Mrs Yeats said yesterday it was unclear how long they would be staying at Starship Hospital.

“At this stage we are still running a few tests to find out what’s wrong with her.

“They need to consult with the specialist overseas that diagnosed her to get some guidelines, because she’s so unique.”

A CT scan of Grace’s head on Monday revealed nothing new, Mrs Yeats said in a Facebook post.

And Grace, who’s become an expert at communicating on her iPad, has recently found difficulty in using her arms to operate the device.

She has also been speaking less over the last few weeks, the post said.

Mrs Yeats said she hoped she had “better news” in the coming days.



Grace gets new wheels


Last month Grace’s new wheels arrived at her Carterton home.

It was made in America, especially for her, with Grace selecting purple as its colour.

The bike even has “Amazing Grace” written on the back.

Mrs Yeats said the chair was made by Team Hoyt, a father and son team well-known in the states for their unique running chairs.

“The son has cerebral palsy… they have been running together for years, that’s their thing.

“They have designed a running chair that they now have in production.

“They promote inclusion and accessibility and marathon running for people in wheelchairs – it’s pretty cool.”

Mrs Yeats said Grace was the first person in New Zealand to have one.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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