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Boy, family battle mysterious disorder

August 19, 1999

Cody MorrowBy MARLO BARNHART / Staff Writer

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer




For most of his 6 1/2 years, Cody Morrow has been clinging to life ... not tentatively or feebly, but tenaciously, and not alone.

"If God is going to take him, it won't be without a fight," said his mother, Wendy Morrow.

Recently she and her husband, Mark, went before a review board at Hershey Medical Center to express their determination to keep Cody, who suffers from a mysterious seizure disorder, at home.

"The doctors at Hershey say he should be in an institution ... that all this is unnecessary, " said Wendy Morrow, her eyes sweeping across a room filled with medications, liquid food, tubes, catheters, diapers, etc.

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She and Mark don't intend to let that happen.

"He's our son," said Wendy Morrow as she tended to her middle child on a recent afternoon at the family's West Side Avenue home.

Wendy and Mark Morrow have another son, Brandon, 9, who is eager to enter the sixth grade this fall.

When Brandon was younger, he wrote an assignment in school about his brother Cody.

"He talked about how he wished Cody could play with him and do the things he can do. I cry every time I read it," Wendy Morrow said.

The Morrows youngest child is 4-year-old Destinee, a little girl with a mass of blond curls and smiling eyes.

"When we decided to have another child after Cody, it was scary but we left the outcome in God's hands," Wendy Morrow said. "When Destinee was born, my husband and I watched her like a hawk for a long time."

Cody had also been born normally on Oct. 22, 1992, and for three months there was no hint of what was to come.

In January 1993, Cody's tiny body was wracked with the first of countless seizures that first robbed him of sight, the use of his arms and legs, then most of his hearing and any cognitive brain function.

"He can distinguish light and dark, but that's all," Wendy Morrow said.

As for talking and moving, there are only moans, grunts and involuntary muscle responses.

"Actually I'm glad he can't talk. ... If he would say, 'Mommy, make it stop,' I don't know what I would do," Wendy Morrow said, her voice catching with emotion.

Cody's days are spent in a specially designed wheelchair designed to keep his head from dropping down. He sleeps fitfully in a hospital bed, fighting fluid build-up in his weakened lungs.

"Cody has only been home July and August of this year, the rest being spent in the hospital with pneumonia," his mother said. "We do the IVs at home and the tube feedings since he can't eat by mouth."

Bills keep coming in, but they have become manageable since the family signed up with the Rare and Expensive Management (REM) program in Maryland.

"Cody is in that program as a quadriplegic," Wendy Morrow said, since the child's actual malady still has no name. "They help us with most everything."

The Morrows are having difficulty taking Cody to doctors' appointments because he has become larger and heavier.

"I can hardly lift him and his chair now," Wendy Morrow said.

Add to that, the family's Dodge Caravan has been in the shop for three months and they can't afford another.

They're hoping someone might have a used van for sale that they could afford.

Anyone with such an offer may call the Morrows at 301-766-0977.

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