Aidan Jack Seeger
Born July 21, 2004, Aidan Jack Seeger was a robust baby boy at 8 lbs, 14 oz. He grew quickly and was in the 95 percentile, met all of his milestones and was walking by the time he was 10 months old. More inquisitive than vocal, he seemed to study people, objects and situations before diving in. Aidan excelled in school and the teachers wanted him to enter the gifted program for 1st Grade.
The Seegers decided to keep him with his classmates in the same school, it would be best for him to enjoy being a kid and worry about academics as he got older. Aidan loved playing chess and was very successful at winning against older opponents and in tournaments. Aidan loved dressing “fancy” as he liked to call it wearing dress shirts with vests or ties when we could find them in his size. He loved his little sister, Sienna dearly and made sure to watch over and protect her. When Sienna was in Pre-K and Aidan in 1st Grade, Sienna came home complaining about one of the little girls in her class, how this girl was mean to her and picked on her. Well, being the overprotective 6 year old big brother he was, he would wait outside Sienna’s Pre-K class so he could have a “talk” with the little girl. These are just some of the sweet stories about Aidan before ALD entered our lives.
In late March, early April of 2011, Aidan’s 1st Grade school year, he started having some vision problems. He started reading and writing with his head very close to the table. Having no other behavior issues, the Seegers just assumed he needed glasses. They took Aidan to the opthamologist who said he had 20/20 vision. Then they took Aidan to a pediatric opthamologist who also told them he had 20/20 vision and “sometimes children do this as they are just learning how to read and write”. This would make sense if it were the beginning of the school year, but it was close to the end of the year and prior to this Aidan had been doing really well in school.
The next suggestion was a retina specialist who did recognize something was wrong, but didn’t know what it was. Back to their pediatrician who suggested a visit to the neurologist. At the appointment with the neurologist, the doctor spent a lot of time doing a physical check up: asking Aidan questions, asking him to run up and down the hall, touch his nose, etc. After about an hour the doctor said “I don’t think anything is wrong with him, but let’s get an MRI to make sure.”
June 2, 2011 that was the day their lives were forever changed as they were told their son had a disease called ALD, there was no cure and that he only had a few months to live.
This began their journey for the quest to save their son’s life from a disease they had never heard of. The next week they were on a plane to Minnesota where the diagnosis was confirmed and the work up began to see if Aidan was eligible for a bone marrow transplant. Aidan’s mom remembers falling to the ground as she got the phone call that, YES, Aidan was eligible for transplant and the hope was this would save his life and stop the progression of the disease.
They came back home to Brooklyn waiting for a bone marrow match and the date when he would receive his transplant. They wanted a 2nd opinion and had the chance to go to Duke in North Carolina, the only other hospital in the country with experience in ALD. On July 4, 2011 they drove down to North Carolina as a family and this is where they stayed.
Aidan went through 10 days of chemotherapy and received his 5/6 cord blood transplant on July 21, 2011, his 7th Birthday, and little more than 1 month after first hearing the word adrenoleukodystrophy.
The following months were grueling. Aidan lost all of his abilities in one night. He was walking, talking and eating the night before and the next morning he was unresponsive. After ruling out Sepsis, the doctors believed his condition to be PRES (Posterior Reversible Encephalopathy Syndrome), a common occurrence when taking anti-rejection medications. As the doctors changed his medication to hopefully reverse this condition, Aidan never fully regained his abilities. Except for one unexplainable night about one month from losing everything, Aidan woke up at 2:00 AM sat up, asked to drink soda, was talking and moving and fully cognitive. He went back to sleep and was never to be “himself” again.
After 7 months at Duke University they were transferred to NYU’s hospital so they could hopefully move Aidan back home.
The family spent 3 months in NYU with a series of complications, although Aidan was 99% donor cells (his blood type changed from O negative to A positive) his disease was too far progressed. Aidan passed away on April 29, 2012; just 11 months from his diagnosis.
Life for the Seegers will never be the same. They will always have a hole in their hearts and time will not heal it. Their mission now is to help other boys and their families affected by ALD.