High schooler receives $20,000 for rare genetic disorder
SUMMARY: Katie Westbrook suffers from a rare genetic condition found only in women that deteriorates teeth, eyesight and heart function.
Posted: June 11, 2014
Katie Westbrook now has enough donations to pay for oral surgery.
The 17-year-old graduated from Clayton Valley Charter High School in Concord, California, after battling a rare genetic condition - Oculofaciocardiodental (OFCD) - which affects the development of the eyes, teeth and heart. Fewer than one in 1 million women suffer from OFCD?.
OFCD was the reason that Westbrook had to undergo open-heart surgery as an infant. It was the reason she started losing her eyesight in 4th grade. Now, she is getting ready for surgery on her decaying teeth.
Westbrook's single mother, Jennifer, said they have raised more than $20,000, almost hitting their mark of $25,000 on giveforward.com. Because OFCD is rapidly deteriorating Westbrook's teeth, she must have all of them removed to avoid developing a fatal infection. She will have them replaced by implant anchors and a full set of permanent dentures.
"It's, like, awesome," Katie told the San Francisco Chronicle. "I'm so thankful for all the donations. I'm at a loss of words from all the help people have given."
But help has not only come in the form of money. It has brought forth heart-warming encouragement from hundreds of supporters.
On the crowd-funding website, one commenter wrote, "You are an inspiration - Even without perfect teeth, your smile is infectious. xo."
Come August 20, Westbrook will have her first surgery and be on her way to a beautiful new smile.
"I'm kind of worried about that. I mean, who gets excited about surgeries?" Katie told the source. "But I'm looking forward to having new teeth and being able to eat certain foods."
How certain conditions affect teeth
People with OFCD tend to have teeth with very large roots and defective tooth enamel, causing foods and beverages to erode their surfaces and wear away at the gum line.
Westbrook is one of the many people whose lives are affected by genetic diseases that wreak havoc on oral health. Sjögren's syndrome, to name one such ailment, triggers severe dry mouth that leaves patients at a very high risk for tooth decay, gum disease and other infectious diseases. Four million Americans are currently living with this condition.
While the road to overcoming OFCD, Sjögren's and other similar diseases may be long, understanding that one is not alone and learning to stifle the side effects can provide a big victory.