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For Immediate Release
Monday, May 23, 2011


OU student awarded $30,000 grant to establish advocacy organization

Emily Kather and her son, Benjamin
     Rochester, Mich. – Emily Kather, a master's degree candidate in the Oakland University-Beaumont Graduate Program of Nurse Anesthesia, wants to make sure that other parents don't face that same disheartening struggle she experienced after learning that her son, Benjamin, suffered from childhood epilepsy and infantile spasms.

     Fortunately, she recently learned that Questcor Pharmaceuticals approved a $30,000 grant she requested in order to establish the Foundation for Awareness of Childhood Epilepsy and Infantile Spasms (FACEIS). The organization will serve as an information source and a forum for parents whose children suffer from disorders that are frequently misunderstood and even misdiagnosed.

     After Benjamin began suffering seizures in 2009, Kather learned that information and resources relative to his condition were hard to find. "I thought, I'm a nurse and I'm really struggling to get my son what he needs," she said.

     Kather and her husband took Benjamin to several specialists and eventually began traveling to Canada once a month to obtain the high-dose steroid Acthar Gel, which effectively stopped the seizures but was not then approved by the FDA for use in the U.S. While testifying in Washington, D.C. to help change that, an idea occurred to her. Why not create a resource for other parents who were going through the same thing?

     "In researching it, I found there were a lot of parents who have a lot of questions on early intervention, physical therapy and medications," Kather said. "It's hard for parents to get an objective view on what their child needs and is experiencing."

     Thinking a website would be a great way to unite helpful health care professionals and resources, Kather sought help from Questcor to make it a reality.

     Now in development, the site will include physician, corporate and parent advisory boards to review content; a web forum; information on treatment options; and an awareness campaign to stimulate community-level fund-raising efforts to support research. Kather also plans to establish nationwide awareness activities such as Infantile Spasms Awareness week.

     Throughout it all, Kather has credited the OU School of Nursing for providing help, support and encouragement.

     "The nurse anesthesia faculty really worked with me to help me succeed in school and at the same time be a good parent," she said. "The reason I'm still in school is because of the instructors – they made it work for me. And, of course, I'm so gratified that Questcor is supporting my ideas."

     Hopeful that other parents will soon find the answers they need as she did, Kather is now happy to report, "My son is doing wonderfully."

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Oakland University is a doctoral, research-intensive university located in Oakland County, Michigan. The university has 132 bachelor's degree programs and 124 graduate degree and certificate programs. Dedicated to delivering a distinctive undergraduate experience that is complemented by the strength of its graduate offerings and research accomplishments, Oakland University is organized into the College of Arts and Sciences and the Schools of Business Administration, Education and Human Services, Engineering and Computer Science, Health Sciences, Nursing and The Honors College. Visit Oakland University on the Web at oakland.edu .