9-Year-Old with Linear Morphea Gets Creative to Pay Medical Bills

October 12, 2015

Most 9-year-olds are enjoying fourth grade, playing with friends, and continuously learning new things.

That’s not the case for a 9-year-old from Muskegon who tries every day to live a normal childhood — but isn’t able to.

Morgan Franklin suffers from an extremely rare disease that most doctors admit they don’t know much about.

In spite of her diagnosis, and her lengthy fight to get better, Morgan has on her own prescribed a cure – a cure to help pay her growing medical expenses.

It’s a late summer afternoon in Muskegon. Morgan and her mother, Elizabeth Eller, decide they want to take a short trip to Pere Marquette Beach, where they walk along the shoreline and collect rocks.

“Oh, I found a flat one,” Morgan said, as she picked up a stone and placed into her green pail.

The pair walk quite a ways, sometimes wading into Lake Michigan knee-deep, to secure several sorts of stones.

“She’s having so much fun doing this,” added Elizabeth Eller.

Collecting rocks isn’t uncommon for children Morgan’s age, but her reason behind collecting them is uncommon.

Morgan is collecting rocks, hoping to contribute toward a cure.

Her own cure.

“Morgan’s incredible,” said Eller. “She deals with this very well.”

Eller says her daughter was enjoying a normal, healthy childhood up until early spring of 2014.

“She got a bruise on her backside, and it didn’t go away,” said Eller. “We took her to her primary doctor here in Muskegon, who looked at it and told us that it will go away.”

It didn’t.

“She developed more spots, so we took her back to the doctor,” added Eller. “More blood tests were taken, and every time, they came back normal.”

Eller says she pushed Morgan’s primary care physician for a second opinion, and that’s when the family was referred to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids.

By the time Morgan had arrived in Grand Rapids, her spots had begun surfacing on her arms, and were spreading all the way up to her neck and collar bone area.

“Morgan was examined for one day at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, and doctors there told us they could do nothing for her condition,” said Eller. “They immediately referred us to a dermatologist in Grand Rapids.”

The family went to see Dr. Richard J. Ashack, MD, FAAD. Eller says Dr. Ashack examined Morgan and immediately diagnosed her as having linear morphea, or localized scleroderma.

Morgan would see Dr. Ashack for nine months.

“[Dr. Ashack] gave us topical oils and creams to see if those might help make the spots go away, but those didn’t work either,” said Eller.

In early 2015, Dr. Ashack then referred Morgan to University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


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