Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Arthur Dekoff says he is far from the only one in his family who is affected by the Vietnam War.
“My daughter wasn’t in that war,” he said. “But there’s no doubt in my mind that she’s paying the price because I was in it.”
Jessica Dekoff seemed healthy until she started kindergarten and a teacher said Jessica was dozing off in school. That’s when the seizures began.
“We took her to a children’s hospital. The diagnosis was epilepsy, and they treated her for that, but the seizures kept going,” Arthur said. “Then she had a stroke, and she lost the use of her right side, and it also left her mentally handicapped.
“The doctors kept questioning me about if I had ever been out of the country, and I told them I was in Vietnam. That was the end of the questioning. They didn’t need to talk about it any longer,” Arthur said.
The CT scan confirmed that it was Moyamoya disease, a rare condition first identified by the Japanese. It is more common in Asians but can affect anyone. Girls get it more often than boys. The walls of the internal carotid arteries of a person with Moyamoya, which supply blood to important areas of the brain, become thickened. Blood clots can form which may cause strokes and transient ischemic attacks.
Moyamoya can strike at any age, but the average age of diagnosis is around seven years, right about Jessica’s age at the time. About seven percent of the time, the disease runs in families, and those cases are due to a particular genetic defect.
“They told me my daughter had a year to live,” Arthur said.
A trip to another hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, resulted in medication that controlled the seizures. Jessica lived, but at 34, she has the mental capacity of a 9-year-old. She can say words but not complete sentences and does not always understand what is being said to her.
Significant numbers of Vietnam veterans have children and grandchildren with birth defects related to exposure to Agent Orange. To alert legislators and the media to this ongoing legacy of the war, we are seeking real stories about real people. If you wish to share your family’s health struggles that you believe are due to Agent Orange/dioxin, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 301-585-4000, Ext. 146.
The Art Dekoff’s Story Continued...http://www.vva.org/Committees/AgentOrange/Dekoff031610.pdf