Former patient plans to help Primary Children's during telethon


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SALT LAKE CITY-- Four years ago, Keith and Kristen Larsen were stunned when doctors at Primary Children's Medical Center told them that their 2-year-old daughter, Alison, needed brain surgery.

Now Alison has an amazing story overcoming a rare condition; but the story is also about looking beyond herself and helping other young patients.

Twists and flips on the monkey bars are easy tricks now for 7-year-old Alison, but those moves would have paralyzed her a few years ago.

"It all started when I was 2 years old and I had my brain surgery," Alison said.

"One of the first sentences she said when she could talk was ‘my head hurts,' and she would cry at night for her headaches," her mother, Kristen Larsen, explained.

An MRI revealed that Alison's brain was creeping down into her spinal cord. Doctors at Primary Children's Medical Center cauterized it and patched it with a piece of a cow's heart.

"She's perfectly fine now. She's our little miracle," Kristen said.

"There's, like, doctors and nurses that can help people if they're injured or if they had a problem when they were born," Alison said.

Because of Alison, all of her classmates decided they wanted to help other children at Primary Children's. Since they are only 6 or 7 years old, they told their parents they wanted to earn the money by doing chores.

"I had to clean my house, and I had to do stuff for my mom, like babysit for four hours," said Jeremiah Johnsen, a first-grader at Upland Terrace Elementary School.

His classmate McCall Dunn said she spent her time cleaning up the toy room. "Since my brother's being potty trained, I helped him too," she said.

They are doing what it takes, hoping it will make a difference for at least one other child. "It would be kind of nice if people would start donating for the Children's Miracle Network," Alison said.

Alison's father was so touched by the children that his company, Deseret Financial Group, is going to match their donation to this weekend's Primary Children's Medical Center Telethon, which begins Saturday night on KSL Channel 5 at 6:30.

E-mail: cmikita@ksl.com

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Carole Mikita

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