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Sick Teen Got Her Graduation Wish

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A Mom remembers the battle she had to fight for her daughter,who's battling Chiari Malformation, to walk on the stage with classmates.

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A few years ago, Kati went from being a straight-A student and basketball star to being confined to her home when she was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation, a disorder that causes severe headaches and dizziness because the skull doesn't contain the base of the brain.

Because of her illness, Kati is a few credits shy of receiving her diploma, and school officials banned her from participating in graduation. However, after 400 members of the community signed a petition to allow Kati to walk on stage, officials decided in a 5-2 vote to allow her to participate in the ceremony.

Friend of Mom•Logic and pediatrician Dr. Gwenn says that many people like Kati don't know they have Chiari Malformation until they reach their teenage years. In its most severe form, the malformation can push into the spinal column, causing major issues with pain and balance.

Mom•Logic spoke with Kati's Mom, Christina, who shared her daughter's personal story.


Mom•Logic: When did Kati start experiencing symptoms?

Christina: In the summer heading into her 8th grade year, Kati went to stay with a friend of mine and visited several amusement parks. When she returned home she complained about lightning bolt cramp headaches in the back of her head. She said they felt like brain cramps.

We ended up taking Kati to a pediatric neurologist, who did an MRI on her brain. He diagnosed Kati with Chiari Malformation, a genetic condition affecting the brain.

Mom•Logic: After Kati was diagnosed, how did her life change?

Christina: Kati was diagnosed in February 2004. Shortly after, she underwent her first brain surgery, where they removed a section of the back of her skull to pull the pressure off the back of her brain. A few months later, Kati went downhill again.

Kati stumbled through her freshman year in high school. We ended up taking Kati to a specialist in New York. She is full of titanium and screws, but the disorder has progressed.

Each year, Kati missed more and more school and has been homebound for the last three years. She lost her ability to sit in a desk and be in school. She was passing out and hitting her head on things. And at home, she would black out in the shower or while brushing her teeth. Over the last few years, we've watched her suffer more and more from severe nausea, dizziness, head pain, joint pain, and it's stifled her ability to attend classes.

Mom•Logic: Why is walking in the graduation ceremony so important to Kati?

Christina: My daughter has felt so disconnected. Graduation day is an exciting day and also a sad day for high school seniors. It's one of the last times they're together before going their separate ways. It's the one day Kati can feel connected to her friends and classmates and feel like she's part of something. It's a milestone for her. High school graduation happens once in a person's lifetime. These are the kids she grew up with, played sports with, and had slumber parties with.

Kati isn't expecting a free ride--she wants to continue working with her teacher until she completes her credits. Kati could outlive me or die in two years, we just don't know. Her health problems are very severe right now, and the joy, peace of mind, and satisfaction of walking in graduation will really help Kati. It's the one thing she really wants.

What do you think of the high school's decision?

Click on an image to view the Kati Wetch Gallery


next: An Expert Take On Vaccines
7 comments so far | Post a comment now
Kai April 11, 2008, 2:45 PM

I think this girl should be allowed to graduate. I can’t understand why her school would be so hardnosed with a good girl who’s working hard with the situation she was given and not giving up. The school should let her experience graduation instead of trying to strip another experience away from her—as if her disease hasn’t done that already!

candy April 11, 2008, 4:30 PM

what happened to the no child left behind act that president bush put into affect she is more then accepetable for that!!!!

joe April 12, 2008, 8:18 AM

Do you have interns writing your stories? You left out the “where” of this story. Remember the five W’s of journalism - who, what when, where and why.

Tony April 16, 2008, 10:28 PM

Kati should be able to Graduate and no one at all should hold her back from this issue! I myself knows what Kati is going through everyday, i have the same thing going on with me to. I have had a brain hemmage on top of this all to and i am also fighting Lymes Diease. Kati don’t never give up hun and stay positive on everything that happens around you. The pain and aches and the joint pain is unreal, only people like me and Kati know what it feels like to hurt in a way some people just don’t understand and get! Kati has every right to Graduate, i stand behind her 100% and everybody else should to. Godbless you Kati, and if Kati says she hurts when she write’s and sit at a desk, well believe her. Because i am in such pain now, but i wanted people to hear me so people just don’t think Kati is crazy when she tell’s people the problems she has. We know Kati! NOW GO ON AND GRADUATE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT JUST LIKE ANYBODY ELSE IN THAT SCHOOL!!!! A FRIEND WHO KNOW’S! Mr. Greco, but everybody calls me Tony!

ea June 5, 2008, 5:55 AM

well if you dont have the credits then no she shouldnt . but if she has the credits yes . when I was in school and you didnt have the credits you didnt graduate

Lily November 8, 2010, 3:42 PM

I would like to say that I think she should be allowed to graduate, and still work with her teachers. It shouldn’t matter as long as she keeps going with it. I completely understand what she is going through. I am 15 years old and I have dropped out of school to be homeschooled. My mom is real sick, and she needs somebody home with her at all times. She has a lot wrong. And now my oldest brother has been dignost with the exact same thing Kati has. Were going to be traveling a lot. He is no longer able to work, so I see how he feels to be losing a lot. IF they don’t allow her to graduate I would go to the school boards and do everything possible. I wish you guys the BEST! And my family and I will be sending our prayers your way! Kati, hang in and stay strong, don’t give up. God is with you all the way, no matter how lonely times can feel! My best wish’s are sent out! Xoxo, Lily.

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