The University of Arizona Health Sciences

2017 PANDA Event Patient Models


When she was a baby, Abbigail was losing weight, super fussy and constantly vomiting. After seeing many doctors and having many tests, Abbigail was examined by Dr. Ghishan. Blood work confirmed that Abbigail—weighing 13 pounds at 13 months old—had severe celiac disease. She had to eliminate gluten, dairy, citrus, anything acidic and most sugars from her diet.


Thanks to the physican-scientists and research at the Steele Center, five-year-old Abbigail is now full of life and back on the growth chart. Her family is forever thankful for Dr. Ghishan.


As a toddler, Emma fought chronic MRSA infections, contracted croup 8-10 times a year until she was seven, and visited the emergency room several times a year. On June 30, 2015, at 9:30am, Emma began behaving like a toddler. After developing verbal and physical tics, she began having hallucinations and psychosis. Her behavioral therapist believed Emma had postinfectious autoimmune encephalopathy (PAE), which was confirmed in January 2016.


After the second round of the recommended treatment of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG), the Emma her family knew began to re-emerge. She still battles her illness daily, but it is more manageable because of the incredible research and resources available for children like her.


In August 2014, Holland was a dancer, very outgoing and full of spunk. Practically overnight, she developed obsessive-compulsive disorder and would not eat certain foods. Holland eventually developed a sensitivity to noise, smell and light that could cause migraines so severe that she would be bedridden for days. Her family was desperate for answers, medically air-transporting Holland to the Bay Area searching for help. After being misdiagnosed many times, she was correctly diagnosed with PANS--Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome.


After her family learned in May 2016 about the new CPAE Center opening in Tucson for children with PANS or PANDAS, Holland had her first IVIG treatment. Within hours of the treatment, she was dancing in her hospital room. Holland’s family tells everyone that the doctors and research at the Steele Center gave them their daughter back.



Jack was three when his family noticed he was drinking a lot of water, complained about being thirsty all of the time, regressed in his potty training and suddenly lost his baby fat. When Jack was visiting his grandfather and did not run around at the San Diego Zoo—one of his favorite places—a simple blood test during a doctor’s appointment showed that he had type 1 diabetes. No one knew the Jack’s symptoms were common signs of the disease. His blood sugar levels were dangerously high, but he received medical care before going into a life-threatening diabetic coma.


After almost four years, Jack perseveres and does not let diabetes get him down. He is a happy, energetic, full-of-life six-year-old who is back to running around the San Diego Zoo every chance he gets.


Jaden was a typical eight-year-old boy, physically active and full of energy. Within a few days, he was fighting for his life. Jaden exhibited flu-like symptoms and degraded into a full diabetic ketoacidosis coma at Banner-Diamond Children's Medical Center in Tucson. He was given a 1% chance of survival before the hospital staff saved his life.


Jaden and his family have learned how to manage his type 1 diabetes. They are grateful for PANDA and being able to partner with researchers and physicians at the Steele Center to discover and improve treatments and cures for childhood diseases.