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Healthy Balance

A Quick GPA Diagnosis for Young Lynchburg Girl

Lauren Davidson lives outside of Lynchburg, Virginia with her family. A typical pre-teen, Lauren spent time with friends, loved playing with her dog and was an active swimmer. That started to change when Lauren’s swim coach called her mother, Susan, and told her that Lauren wasn’t feeling well and hadn’t participated in practice that day. Susan wrote it off as a fluke.

Learn More About Lauren’s Disease

Read about GPA, or Wegener’s granulomatosis, how it’s diagnosed and treated.

A week or so before her 11th birthday, Lauren started complaining of joint pain. Other symptoms started to show up over the next few days. Finally, after she started having trouble breathing, Susan brought Lauren to UVA, where her daughter was diagnosed with granulomatosis with polyangiitis, sometimes called Wegener’s granulomatosis or GPA.

GPA, a rare form of vasculitis, causes the walls of the blood vessels to become inflamed. Since it is an autoimmune disease, the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues.

Diagnosing Granulomatosis

Aarat Patel, MD, one of the few pediatric rheumatologists in the region, saw Lauren when she first arrived in the intensive care unit. Patel and Jennifer Charlton, MD, a pediatric nephrologist at UVA Children’s Hospital, decided to run some labs. Within hours, the Davidsons had a diagnosis.

The speed of this diagnosis was not typical. As Patel explains, GPA’s vague symptoms make it hard to pinpoint. Typically, it takes doctors months or even years to diagnose a GPA patient.

With this diagnosis, Lauren’s disease can continue to be managed. As Charlton put it, “There’s a tiger living inside of her. It’s either inside of its cage or outside.” As of today, Lauren’s GPA is inside of its cage, and she continues to live a normal teenage life.

Watch Lauren’s story.

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