Bixby teen recovers from a devastating autoimmune disease

Ella Morrow was a normal kid until she developed ADEM, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, at age 4. At age 15, her recovery continues.



Tia Morrow and her daughter, Ella

Eleven and a half years ago, Ella Morrow was a 4-year-old girl who had just gotten a new bike with training wheels.

“I have a picture of her on her bike two weeks before, and there’s a mosquito bite on her arm,” says her mother, Tia Morrow. “She was riding really well.”

The “before” Morrow talks about is before Ella was admitted into the Children’s Hospital at Saint Francis.

“We took her in afraid it was appendicitis, then they thought it was pneumonia,” Morrow says. “Overnight we knew it was meningitis. We went into the hospital on Thursday, and by Tuesday she was comatose.”

A neurologist was called in, and the Morrows were given a diagnosis of ADEM, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, which is a rare autoimmune disease that causes sudden and widespread inflammation in the brain and spinal cord. It also attacks the central nervous system. She was in a coma, forgot who her family was and lost her motor functions.

“They don’t know for sure, but they think it might have come from a virus carried through a mosquito bite,” Morrow says. It could have been the same mosquito bite seen in the photo of Ella on her bike. The mosquito transmitted the virus, and Ella had an autoimmune response to it, causing ADEM.

She stayed at Saint Francis for about a month and a half until she was stable enough to relocate to a rehabilitation facility. Ella was then taken to the Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital, a private nonprofit facility near Oklahoma City that is celebrating its 120th anniversary.

“When she went to the Children’s Hospital she couldn’t do anything,” Morrow says. “She couldn’t walk, she couldn’t talk, she couldn’t sit up.”

Teresa Adkison, a physical therapist at the Children’s Center, was on the team who treated Ella.

“When she got here she required a lot of assistance from us. Max to total assistance,” Adkison says. “Within two months she was much more independent. She was able to get out of bed by herself, go from sitting to standing. She could get up off the floor with minimum assistance. She could sit unassisted. She was walking when she left here with someone just holding her hand.”

And Ella still loved peddling.

“She would ride a tricycle,” Adkison says. “I remember she would tear down the halls, and I would have to chase after her. She definitely made a recovery. She was a special little girl. And her family was awesome. They were here 24/7.”

Morrow says she and her husband, Shane, initially looked at rehabilitation centers in Texas, but found the Children’s Center was exactly what they were looking for.

“It was roomy and spacious. Everyone seemed happy — staff and patients. They were amazing, I became very close with them,” she says, and especially with Adkison. “While she was treating Ella physically, she was emotionally treating me. As they were teaching Ella how to sit up and stand, they were teaching me how to care for her. They worked with us every step of the way.”

Adkison says at the Children’s Center parents and family are considered part of the rehab team.

“All of our goals include the parents,” she says. “We do weekly meetings with families and go over progress made. They go to therapy, so they have a base knowledge of what they’ll need to do. We want to make sure they’re trained so they’re comfortable when they go home.”

Ella stayed at the Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital for about two months before going home to Bixby in 2007.

“We were apprehensive,” Morrow says. “Going home meant being all alone. They sent us with a binder, and they had therapies lined up. We came home with a plan.”

ADEM didn’t just affect Ella physically, but cognitively, as well.

“Cognitively she’s about 2 years old, in a 15-year-old’s body,” Morrow says. “When she went into the Children’s Center, she was mentally about six weeks old. Her illness was so rare, they just don’t know what will happen. There’s no reason to think she won’t develop, just at a much slower rate.”

Ella attends Bixby High School and continues to go to physical therapy twice a week, as well as occupational therapy and speech therapy. Morrow, her husband and their 20-year-old daughter, Lexi, have started thinking about Ella’s future after high school.

“Progress is very slow,” Morrow says. “We don’t always notice it day to day. But we’re going to continue to work with her. We’re not going to give up on her.

“It’s hard every day. It’s hard because it’s all day, every day. But she’s also taught me so much more than I ever expected. She’s so pure. She has changed my heart through all this.” 

 

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September 2019

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Asbury United Methodist Church
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Asbury United Methodist Church
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Telephone: (405) 236-3100
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Telephone: 713-224-9115
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Cost: Adults $5/Kids Free

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Sponsor: Tulsa Greek Festival
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Mike Fretz Event Center
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Cost: TBA

Where:
Mike Fretz Event Center
11545 E 43rd St
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Telephone: 918-663-5820
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Sponsor: Tulsa Ballet
Contact Name: Dan Meagher
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More information

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Cost: $15 Bistro / $10 General Admission

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Lynn Riggs Theatre at OKEQ
621 East 4th Street
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View map »


Sponsor: OKEQ and Pat Hobbs
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Website »

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Cost: $75

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Southminster Presbyterian Church Community Center
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Cost: Free and open to the community

Where:
Woodland Hills Mall
7021 S Memorial Dr.
Tulsa, OK  74133
View map »


Telephone: 713-224-9115
Contact Name: Woodland Hills Mall

More information

Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
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View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
Website »

More information

Experience the sites, sounds and smells of Greece!  The best lil stop in OPA!homa - just off route 66. Live music, dancing, kids zone, Greek food and drink, delectable baked goods, Greek...

Cost: Adults $5/Kids Free

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13th & Guthrie Ave
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Tulsa, OK  74119
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Greek Festival
Telephone: 918-583-2082
Contact Name: Tonya Boone
Website »

More information

Living Arts of Tulsa will present a multi-media exhibit of Jave Yoshimoto’s work. Intractable Chasm examines the refugee crisis in Greece, experienced firsthand by Yoshimoto when he...

Cost: Free

Where:
Living Arts of Tulsa
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More information

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View map »


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Website »

More information

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View map »


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Contact Name: Linda Davis
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More information

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Cost: 15-20

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110 E. 2nd St.
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Sponsor: Portico Dance Theatre
Telephone: 918-321-0682
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Cost: $75

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Southminster Presbyterian Church Community Center
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View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Fencing Club
Telephone: 918-928-2663
Website »

More information

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ONEOK Field
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View map »


Sponsor: St. Jude
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Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free and open to the community

Where:
Woodland Hills Mall
7021 S Memorial Dr.
Tulsa, OK  74133
View map »


Telephone: 713-224-9115
Contact Name: Woodland Hills Mall

More information

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Cost: Free

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View map »


Sponsor: river parks
Telephone: 918-596-2008
Contact Name: Ryan Howell
Website »

More information

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Cost: 10

Where:
Spread throughout Metro Tulsa
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Sponsor: Pella Windows of Oklahoma
Telephone: 918-663-5820
Website »

More information

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Cost: Adults $5/Kids Free

Where:
13th & Guthrie Ave
1222 S. Guthrie Ave

Tulsa, OK  74119
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Greek Festival
Telephone: 918-583-2082
Contact Name: Tonya Boone
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Living Arts of Tulsa
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View map »

More information

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View map »


Telephone: 918-259-8437
Contact Name: Central Park Community Center

More information

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Cost: Adults $17.95, Children 3yrs-12yrs $13.95 Military and Seniors(62+) $13.95

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Jenks, OK  74037
View map »


Telephone: 918-528-1507
Contact Name: Liz Medrano
Website »

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Fundraising concert featuring popular Christian rock band Sanctus Real benefiting Circle of Care's three programs: state-wide foster care, transitional living for single mothers with children...

Cost: 20.00

Where:
Venue 68
6910 S. 101st E. Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74134
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Sponsor: Circle of Care
Telephone: 405-215-1400
Contact Name: Sarah Steffes
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Benefiting the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Broken Arrow Cosplay contest and silent auction. Fan made 1966 Batmobile on display. Food provided by Charlies Chicken, Panera and drinks...

Cost: $10, 12 and under FREE

Where:
1400 W. Washington St.
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
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Telephone: 918-406-9341
Contact Name: Sean Henry
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Circle of Care and popular Christian Rock band Sanctus Real are teaming up on September 21, 2019, to raise funds for Circle of Care’s three nonprofit programs. Band member...

Cost: Tickets start at $20

Where:
Asbury United Methodist Church's Venue 68
6910 S. 101 E. Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74133
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America’s LARGEST interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa Broken Arrow! At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: 59.95

Where:
Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa- Broken Arrow
420 W Albany St.
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
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Telephone: 866-496-0535
Contact Name: The Dinner Detective
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Get moved with Tulsa Ballet! Experience incredible works from the most in-demand choreographers in the world at Creations in Studio K. Tickets start at $25. Read all about the exciting pieces...

Cost: $25 - above

Where:
Tulsa Ballet - Studio K
1212 E 45th Place
Tulsa, OK  74105
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Sponsor: Tulsa Ballet
Contact Name: Dan Meagher
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Young and old alike will love the cherished story of Alice and her friends performed through original and exciting dance choreography! "Project Alice" is based on Lewis Carroll's...

Cost: 15-20

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center
110 E. 2nd St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: Portico Dance Theatre
Telephone: 918-321-0682
Contact Name: Linda Davis
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Young and old alike will love the cherished story of Alice and her friends performed through original and exciting dance choreography!"Project Alice" is based on Lewis Carroll's “Alice's...

Cost: 15-20

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center
110 E. 2nd St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: Portico Dance Theatre
Telephone: 918-321-0682
Contact Name: Linda Davis
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Whether you prefer Borg nanoprobes to Midichlorians, the Justice League to the Avengers, or Terminators to Daleks, don't let anyone force you into boldly going where no one has gone...

Cost: $8.00 ($4.00 for children under 12)

Where:
pH Community House
306 S Phoenix Ave
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Sponsor: Laughing Matter Improv
Contact Name: Jerry Henderson
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In our 4-week Beginning Fencing class, you'll learn about the history of Olympic fencing, the three fencing weapons – foil, saber and epee – and the general rules for each of the specific...

Cost: $75

Where:
Southminster Presbyterian Church Community Center
3500 S Peoria
Tulsa, OK  74106
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Sponsor: Tulsa Fencing Club
Telephone: 918-928-2663
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Where:
Veterans Park
1811 S Boulder Park Dr
Tulsa, OK
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Get wined and dined at the first annual Tulsa Beer & Wine Festival. Stroll through our landscape gardens and treat your taste buds to exquisite food pairings with local and national craft...

Cost: TBD

Where:
Gathering Place Great Lawn
2650 S. John Williams Way E.
Tulsa, OK  74114
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