Miracle mum off home
AMANDA LePeilbet is a medical curiosity and a one-in-one-billion survivor.
The Gympie mum was 38-and-a-half weeks pregnant last December when she was struck down by a rare strain of Guillain-Barre syndrome, which affects one in 100,000 people, where the body's immune system attacks the peripheral nervous system.
The fit and healthy manager of Gympie Cooloola Tourism was on her way home from lunch with girlfriends in Maleny on December 1 when she noticed her left arm felt "funny, pins and needles, achy".
The next morning she had trouble walking, and rang the Gympie maternity unit, where she was booked to have her baby.
She was admitted and a doctor suggested it could be Guillain-Barre.
"It was quite a shock," said Amanda.
As her condition deteriorated, Amanda was transferred to Nambour hospital.
There, doctors desperately tried to determine what to do for an expectant mother with Guillain-Barre.
There had been one other recorded case in Australia.
Within two days Amanda was almost completely paralysed.
"By December 3, I was a quadriplegic," she said this week.
On top of this, doctors discovered she had a rare variant of the disease that attacks the axons inside the nerves rather than the myelin sheath covering them.
This meant her recovery could take up to four times longer and that, combined with her impending labour, also meant she was a one-in-one-billion case.
Putting her unborn baby first, Amanda refused a caesarean section and her labour was induced on December 4.
Unable to move but in agony from the contractions and the Guillain-Barre, Amanda had three epidurals before giving birth naturally 13 hours later to a healthy baby girl Cloe.
Her determination and recovery have astounded health workers.
After Cloe's arrival, Amanda's breathing and swallowing deteriorated.
Doctors wanted to put her in a coma and ventilate her, a fate of 30% of sufferers, but because Amanda was breast feeding they held off.
As if that wasn't enough, 12 days after the birth Amanda developed high blood pressure, had a seizure, stopped breathing, was resuscitated, went temporarily blind and
developed facial palsy. She was then fed through a naso-gastric tube for a while.
Nobody knows how long it will be before she fully recovers or if she will fully recover.
It could take years.
She only weighs 48kg and has severe weakness and muscle wastage.
But the signs are good and her progress has so amazed her carers that they are studying Amanda and the possibility that the hormones triggered by breastfeeding have somehow accelerated her recovery.
Amanda wants to come home and doctors have agreed to release her in time for Mother's Day.
To help make it possible friends and family will care for her 24-7.
Fundraising events will be held in the Gympie region in the next month to raise money to modify her home so she can return.