Grey's Exclusive: Sarah Chalke Opens Up About Bringing Her Own Crisis to TV: 'There Were Tears'

Grey's Anatomy Season 9 SpoilersIt was a closed set at Grey’s Anatomy last week due to the emotionally charged nature of the scenes being filmed, as guest star Sarah Chalke — whose storyline thus far has been kept under wraps — brought an extremely personal tale to the ABC drama.

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Two years ago, Chalke and her fiancé Jamie Afifi endured a parent’s worst nightmare when their son Charlie, then barely 12 months old, came down with Kawasaki Disease, a difficult-to-diagnose ailment that inflames blood vessels throughout a child’s body and regularly confounds caregivers. “You present with all these symptoms, you get a lot of repeated misdiagnoses, you keep getting sent home [by doctors]…,” the actress shares with TVLine. “We had a really hard time getting him diagnosed.”

Adding to the real-life drama: The rub with Kawasaki Disease (or KD) is that there is a narrow, approximately 10-day window to get treatment, via a 12-hour intravenous treatment called immunoglobulin (or IVIG). Miss that window and about 1 in 4 patients, who are usually age 5 and younger, develop heart disease involving the coronary arteries.

“We fought really hard to see a specialist, but got the treatment on Day 10-1/2,” Chalke relates. “It was on the late side, but thank God Charlie is OK.” Coming out of that harrowing experience, “We thought, ‘What can we do to help other parents and kids not have to go through what we went through? What about an episode on a medical show?'”


Photo credit: Keith Barnes

Though Chalke’s family went through this two years ago, it was only recently that she began speaking openly about it, at a November “Save a Child’s Heart” fundraiser for KD (photo, right). “Talking about it and hearing other parents speak, that’s sort of what galvanized me to make a difference, to do this now. Obviously in this business, you do whatever you can to protect your child’s privacy, but there’s a time when the scale tips and you figure out a way to talk about it.”

So, in January of this year, the Scrubs alumna met with Grey’s creator Shonda Rhimes, executive producer Betsy Beers, writer Joan Rater and research director Meg Marinis. “We just chatted for an hour, as I shared the story of our whole experience,” Chalke says. “They were like, ‘We absolutely want to do this — and we’ll let you play the mom.'”

In the March 28 episode of Grey’s, Chalke guest-stars as a single mother who arrives at the show’s Seattle hospital with her infant son, after suffering repeated misdiagnoses at other ERs yet knowing — hence the episode’s title, “Can’t Fight This Feeling” — that something is quite wrong. As illustrated on the ABC drama, Kawasaki Disease “is a really visual thing,” Chalke says, presenting with any combination of symptoms including red, lipsticked-like lips, red eyes, a rash all over the body, a lingering fever, swollen lymph nodes and — perhaps the most tell-tale indicator — skin peeling from the fingers.

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Understandably, though every bit the professional, Chalke couldn’t help but let her own emotions slip through as she dramatized her tale, sharing scenes with Ellen Pompeo and Camilla Luddington. “Oh my God…. There were some tears,” she says. “As an actor, you’re usually like, ‘Will I be able to cry when I’m supposed to cry?’ But this is more like, “Will I be able to stop crying when I have to stop crying?’

“It was definitely a bit scary to tackle,” she continues. “I didn’t know what that experience was going to be like, to hold a baby who was made up to look like Charlie did at that time. It was probably the most challenging thing I’ve done, but it ended up being a really good experience. The thing that means so much to me … is raising awareness about [KD], so that it doesn’t go untreated [for other families].”

Chalke also filmed a PSA, airing at the end of the hour and pointing people to KDFoundation.org, which she regards as “the website that saved Charlie, because that’s the one that we kept going back to, every day for 10 days, looking at this very clear checklist of symptoms and going ‘Yep, yep, yep, yep….’ That was what kept us fighting.”

A spokesperson for the foundation champions Chalke’s effort, saying, “Approximately 5,000 cases of Kawasaki Disease are reported in the United States every year, although the actual number of cases is likely greater because many cases go undiagnosed and untreated…. We are grateful to Sarah for sharing her story and creating awareness about KD. Her efforts may save the lives of young children around the world.”

Indeed, every bit of awareness is critical. According to Chalke, “The Kawasaki doctor we dealt with said they do a news story every year, and often that save lives every year. So she said that this [Grey’s Anatomy] episode absolutely is going to save lives. It’s going to save some kids.”

Chalke’s Grey’s episode airs March 28; her new ABC sitcom How To Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life) debuts the following Wednesday, April 3, at 9:30/8:30c.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Isak says:

    Beautiful. So nice to read stories of people using their talents for good. And major points for Grey’s Anatomy. Now I guess that the episode will be all the more emotional knowing that it’s basically her own story.

    • Darlene Faldyn says:

      Yes it was!!!! It IS going to be more emotional knowing she really went thru that. I LOVE Grey’s Anatomy and dread it going off air like every thing else I fall in love with. Thursday is my favorite day of the week!

  2. CA says:

    sounds like we might be talking about this episode during awards season…

    • Evan says:

      Just hand her the Guest Star Emmy now. And if you have to wait till the actual award ceremony, I hope her son comes out on stage with her.

  3. EelCartman@aol.com says:

    I was diagnosed with Kawasaki’s disease when i was in kindergarten…. I am aware that there are some cases that are pretty extreme. But for the majority of cases it is not NEARLY as bad as this article makes it. I dunno, maybe I was just too young to remember it correctly. I remember sitting in a hospital bed for a week and half with an IV attached to my arm and just sitting there watching movies. It was actually kind of fun.

    I’m not trying to dismiss the apparent “severity” of Sarah Chalke’s situation. I just feel this whole article is EXTREMELY exaggerated… Just a thought.

    • Katherine215 says:

      This episode/article is largely from the parent’s perspective though. I’d imagine your parents have much stronger memories and feelings about the diagnosis and treatment than you do as a child. Not to diminish your comment at all, and I agree that there are probably different degrees to the illness, too.

      • p says:

        I think you need to talk to your parents at get an idea of what THEY went through. Even after 35 years, my mother STILL has a hard time with it and when my kids spike a fever, she’s on pins and needles to the point my husband and I no longer tell her when the
        kids are sick.

        • Karen Sanders says:

          It’s been 13 1/2 years since my son had KD. It was awful to the point of me having panic attacks after my last son was born fearing he, too would get KD. So as a parent it was horrible. My son remembers everything. He was 7. He’s perfect and had no residual issues but is still bring followed because there is still so little known.

    • Susan says:

      Maybe the article was exaggerated and maybe it wasn’t. But you do realize you just said you were in the hospital for a week and a half – that’s a long time for anyone to be in the hospital.

      Maybe discuss the situation with your parents if you can to get their point of view. They might tell you something different that you didn’t realize like how scared they were. Or, they might agree with you and tell you how it didn’t seem to be that bad.

    • Josh says:

      Yeah but imagine the hell your parents went through? Or if you were even younger and more helpless and unable to have fun(I doubt one years can watch TV and chill in the hospital). Plus it’s about awareness about it being undiagnosed past the 12 days. You sound as if yours was caught….So yeah…I do think you’re being a tad callous on the whole if you think about people who might not have been so lucky.

    • Matt says:

      Like what Sarah Chalke was saying, it has to do with diagnosing it at the right time. In her case, she did mention that it had been misdiagnosed to the point where it was almost too late, so that is when the symptoms are probably going to be the most severe.

    • Mary says:

      A child (or anyone for that matter!) in the hospital for a week is a huge deal.

    • chistosa says:

      And the obvious point is that they diagnosed you correctly, thus averting the most dire consequences. My niece also suffered through Kawasaki when she was about 6. She was misdiagnosed and given an antibiotic that did nothing. After a few days of everything worsening, even with medication my sister brought her back to the doctor. He saved her life because he suspected the condition and sent her to an expert in the disease who met her at a teaching hospital nearby. she was sent by ambulance. The expert checked her out and started treatment immediately. She was hospitalized for two weeks. Se was told that if the pediatrician did not suspect the disease and send her off by ambulance she would have died. She is in her mid 20’s now and still needs to be checked by a cardiologist once a year even though thankfully she has no damage to her heart. So no, it is not exaggerated. You just were lucky enough to have been spared what might have been.

    • npbmd2b says:

      I agree with you about the sensationalized nature of the article. Not to downplay the absolute hell that the parents go through, but the article is inaccurate. I am a medical student who will be a Pediatric Cardiologist, and I am currently doing research in Kawasaki’s Disease with the leading specialist in Dallas. I can tell you that a “blood transfusion” isn’t even part of the treatment for KD. Perhaps they are confusing a blood transfusion (where a person’s blood is replaced with donor blood) with plasmapheresis, where the water component of a person’s blood is removed and filtered to take out all of the autoantibodies. Even still, plasmapheresis is the very last treatment choice, only used when all other drug treatments have been exhausted.

      I am certainly not trying to minimize the trauma of Sarah Chalke’s experience. Trust me, the parents of my patients live a parenting nightmare when their child deals with KD, but exploiting the experiences of the children by over-dramatizing the facts does nothing to help our cause. If you want accurate information about the disease, visit http://www.kdfoundation.org.

      • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

        I have amended the intravenous treatment part of the story, to specify immunoglobulin (per KDF literature) Thank you for the note.

        • npbmd2b says:

          Thanks for the redaction. Sorry to have spouted off at the mouth about your intentions. I shouldn’t have done that. Thanks for highlighting a very serious, oft misdiagnosed, and potentially fatal disease in your article. As a medical professional, I grow weary of the countless attempts by the media to exploit our patients, their families and their diseases. Often times, members of the media will exaggerate medical realities for the sake of their story, and I was fearful that this is what you were doing. Clearly, I completely misunderstood your motives and I offer my apologies to you. Again, thanks for your work.

      • diane kesterson says:

        I thought the article said IVIG…not a “blood transfusion”…my husband has to have this type of treatment to help with his immune system…making folks aware is always good…if you are ever a parent…you will realize “DRAMA” is always a good way to GET attention…good luck in your studies….

        • npbmd2b says:

          As you can read above, the author of the article edited the article to reflect the correct first-line treatment (IVIG) after I posted my comment. I am a parent, and I have been through 2 life-threatening diagnoses with both of my sons. One was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes at 6 years old, and the other with acute respiratory distress when he was mere hours old. I am a tremendous advocate for any initiative that brings attention to Kawasaki’s Disease, but that wasn’t my criticism. I did not say that the article shouldn’t have been written. I called it sensationalized and over-dramatized because the article originally had incorrect medical information that seemed to be exaggerating the medical realities. Drama is not a good way to get attention if it ultimately leads to inaccurate information being disseminated as factual, and that was my rub with the article. Mr. Mitovich corrected the mistake, acknowledged it in his comment to me, and I in turn apologized to him for misreading his motives.

          Thanks for the well wishes in my career. I hope to be a compassionate, knowledgeable physician whose experiences as a mother make me a better doctor.

          • caramia says:

            Amazing how a “professional” thinks it is appropriate to criticize another professional’s motives, when in reality, it is professional to criticize a person’s work. How could one person know another’s motives? And in this case, why presume it’s an evil motive? Sources, especially scientists, treat journalists like dirt and then complain that information is not reported correctly. Well, who is at fault there? Who has the impure motive?

      • Donna Slauenwhite says:

        One of the pediatricians who misdiagnosed my five month old nephew sobbed in my arms at the funeral…his partner sobbed in my arms graveside! Neither of them were able to diagnose Kawaski disease until it was far, far too late. My nephew who had been in and out of hospital…died at home in his mothers arms…can you imagine the horror! And you have the temerity as a student to suggest that the article is sensationalized? I pray that you never experience first hand the devastation of this illness…my gut feeling is that you will be too insensitve to recognize it also!

        • Kathy says:

          Agreed Donna. While this medical student is working with the leading specialist in Dallas, he/she certainly knows that each case is different and it would be impossible for ANY “expert” to know everything there is to know, hence the growth in the medical field……always learning, always new research, etc. I sensed a “know it all” attitude by the poster and an insensitivity as well. Even if he/she chooses to think of the article as sensationalized, there will be more attention given to this disease, and isn’t that what is needed? Also wondering how there is time to read TV Line as an overworked med student.

          • npbmd2b says:

            Kathy, in my statement I never criticized the article for needing to know everything there is to know, etc. I criticized the inaccurate information that article originally contained because it came across as over-dramatized and sensationalized to me. Perhaps I am hypersensitive to sensationalization within the media, but that tends to happen when camera crews come to the hospital and ask you to fabricate scenes with fake patients so that they can make a better story, or completely inaccurate and exaggerated quotes from doctors for their own benefit. When the author cited the blood transfusion (which he later corrected after my post) as a treatment, it smacked of the type of sensationalization and over-dramatization within the media with which I have grown extremely frustrated. If you will read above, I have apologized to him for questioning his motives, and I have thanked him for the story because of the attention it brings to KD. My post never once criticized the existence of the article, it simply called attention to the inaccuracy and expressed my opinions related to the inaccuracy. I have acknowledged those opinions as pre-judgements and I have sought forgiveness from Mr. Mitovich for my statement. In regards to your question about my time as a medical student and reading TVline.com, when I am on call, there can be a surprising amount of downtime waiting for admissions from the ED or waiting on lab results, imaging studies, etc. I like to have a life, too, and sometimes that means relaxing with a bit of hollywood gossip when I have a free moment. I clicked on the website and the article piqued my interest because it is about KD. Lord knows with chasing a 7 year old son and a 5 month old son around my house after a long day at the hospital, I need to take advantage of any free time that I can. While I don’t appreciate the accusatory tone behind your statement, I understand that it may seem unlikely that a medical student would have time for entertainment.

        • npbmd2b says:

          I am terribly sorry for the loss of your precious nephew. I do not know the pain of losing a child, but I do know the pain of losing patients. I have heard the sobs of distraught parents, felt the helplessness of telling them that we have done all that we can, and stumbled into the stairwell to try to pull myself together before going into the room of the next patient. And I pray that by God’s grace, I will never live the nightmare of your nephew’s doctors. Losing a patient due to my own mistake is a cross that I cannot imagine having to bear.

          I also understand that your unimaginably awful experience makes you very sensitive with this topic. Your sensitivity certainly comes across in your response, and, honestly, I think I would be the same way if I were to have walked in your shoes. I apologize if my comments hurt you in any way. If you re-read my post above, I think you will discover that I was not in any way calling Mrs. Chalke’s description of her experience sensationalized. I very clearly pointed to a specific statement in the article in which the author presented as fact an inaccuracy in regards to Kawasaki’s disease. This inaccuracy seemed like sensationalization and over-dramatization to me because it exaggerated the treatment strategy in a manner that appealed to the ethos. If you read above where the author of the article comments about his correction of the mistake, you can see that I apologized to him for judging his motivation.

          I know that you and your family will never be the same after the loss that you have experienced, but I pray that the Lord would somehow comfort you with precious memories. I also pray that the experience of your nephew’s doctors will make them more alert, perhaps saving the lives of countless other children and, in that way, allowing your nephew’s legacy to live on. Lastly, I pray on a daily basis that God would give me compassion, sensitivity and grace to treat my patients as my own children. I ask Him to work through my hands, my feet, my brain, my voice and my heart so that I might take care of his creations with His care and concern.

        • Kathleen says:

          Thanks big sister….no family should ever have to experience such a senseless loss and no child should be left to suffer as my baby Josh did….

      • Veronica says:

        What. Did you read the article the treatment was IVIG. That is not a blood transfusion. It comes from blood yes but it is a clear treatment given slowly and also treats many auto immune issues.

        • npbmd2b says:

          As you can read above, the author of the article edited the article to reflect the correct first-line treatment (IVIG) after I posted my comment.

    • me says:

      You are an idiot.

    • Barb says:

      As a parent of a child with KD this article is definitely not over exaggerated! It is extremely frustrating to have a sick child and no one can tell you what’s wrong, or repeatedly tell you it’s just a virus and the child keeps getting sicker. My daughter ended up in the emergency room with dehydration before someone finally correctly diagnosed her. Unfortunately it was to late to prevent the aneurysm on her coronary artery. She also stopped breathing during the hospital stay and was in a medication induced coma for a week. Awareness of this disease is crucial to possibly preventing others from having to experience this.

    • row says:

      My son had kd when he was six, he would probably agree with you that there wasnt much to it. However from the parents perspective – we were in a country town in australia and the royal flying doctor service had to fly us to perth to get the treatment, we were terrified and that was on day 5 when he was finally diagnosed. We had seen probably 5 health professionals before that who told us that it was just a virus and go home, it’ll clear up eventually. We were just very lucky to come across a dr finally when he could no longer walk who had actually seen this disease before. We were lucky, he was treated on day 5 which is early and has had no problems since, if we hadn’t seen that dr? scary thought…..

    • I understand what you mean EelCartman. I was also diagnosed with KD and I don’t remember it being that scary. I was in the hospital for about a week on IV. I remember that my mom was frustrated because it took a while for the doctors to figure out what was wrong with me.

    • S.Willis says:

      I am glad that you have been fortunate with your diagnoses, however there is still so much more research that needs to be done about KD. My son was diagnosed with KD and the scare is real. I personally know a man who was diagnosed with KD as a child, went on to have a seemingly healthy adult life until he went for a physical at the age of 45. KD had left so much scar tissue on his heart that he was rushed into immediate surgery to repair the damage. While you are fortunate, I repeat that the scare is real and can be as extreme as the article mentions.

      I pray that you continue in great health and never know this type of scare.
      Blessings to you.

    • kawasaki mom says:

      May seem highly exaggerated to some… but, the ones like my son who just got out the hospital..who had a bulge in his artery and had rejection to the ivig and has permanent vision damage now … it is reality and scarey as heck… glad your experience with Kawasaki wasn’t as scarey… he now has to go for cardiac care for the rest of his life.. corrective eye issues… and joint issues… when the kids kawasakis presents so slow as his it is harder to get the diagnosis and damage continues till treated ….. we had to be transfered 4 hours away from our home to get treatment ….. this autoimmune disorder sucks ….

    • Jason says:

      My son was diagnosed 4 years ago with this and let me tell you that your down playing it a lot. It’s a parents worst nightmare not knowing what’s going on. All you know is that your child is hurting and is helpless to do anything about it. As stated in the article, there are probably thousands of cases that just go unseen due to lack of knowledge and medical coverage.

    • Alili Perez says:

      Maybe you are too young to remember.. but it is scariest feeling for parents of NOT knowing what is wrong with your own child, ” presenting with any combination of symptoms including red, lipsticked-like lips, red eyes, a rash all over the body, a lingering fever, swollen lymph nodes and — perhaps the most tell-tale indicator — skin peeling from the fingers.” as this article say, and to have a window of just ten days – that is really scary, forget about your numerous trips to the ER and Drs sending you and your child home and the child is NOT better! IT IS A SCARY FEELING and you will know this feeling once you become a parent….

    • kimski says:

      When you are the parent of a sick child and you can’t get a correct diagnosis it is very emotional and that is what she went through and what her character is going through. Maybe you were lucky and the Dr dx’d you right away. I work at a hospital and I know how this goes undiagnosed. Kudos to Grey’s.

    • Danyelle says:

      Okay, maybe we should all back off Cartman here. It’s pretty obvious there are “issues” at play here.

    • Omar Aleman says:

      The article is not exaggerated. If caught on time by the right people who recognize and treat it, KD can be a routine thing like your case. However, that isn’t the case in this article. This is talking about how confusing it can be to diagnose KD and the risks of not treating it on time. My son had it and it got so bad he spent 3 days in an ICU and 14 days total in the hospital becuase he had a persistent strain of it, so KD can get really bad. You’re lucky that wasn’t the case with you.

    • Mabeth Hudson says:

      For parents it is a terrifying experience- my son had KD at 13 yrs old (highly ununusual) and was misdiagosed repeatedly. He was withering away, and he looked so scary – he was incredibly sick and swollen. On day 8 sent to Johns Hopkins Hospital and after 2 days of trying to meet all the KD checklist he received treatment (IVIG) on Day 10- just within window. Thank God no evidence of heart damage but he’s now 18 and he he still gets tests to monitor his heart. I felt like we battled to get the treatment. So scary. Looking forward to this episode.

    • Marc says:

      You were obviously diagnosed early in it’s development! Our son was diagnosed and received his IV 21 days after the onset of fever and has seriously dmmamage to his arterie and heart. Monthly Doctor visits, lab work every 10 days, and yearly trip to Boston Children’s Hospital for invasive procedures to check his anoyrisms on his arteries, daily ingestion of 6-7 different pills to keep his blood think so it does clot up and cause a stroke, and no, yes I said no contact sports ever. BTW the financialmburden isnsubtantial yearly. May seem extreme to you but it is only the tip of the iceberg on a subject few know about. Well done Greys, well done! Sped the word!

  4. If only Sacred Heart were still open. ;)

    • bryceradick says:

      Love that the last heading for this article is How To Save A Life because my connects that Fray song with Scrubs so hard

  5. Patty Stamps says:

    Just READING this article could save a life as well. Even if we don’t watch Grey’s!

    • bryceradick says:

      Just reading this article made me cry and I’ve never heard of KD. So watching the episode will be nuts.

  6. kresh says:

    Well now we know that the child will survive. yey that’s intense ^^

  7. cdeno says:

    It’s great Grey’s Anatomy is tackling something so difficult and real. My only question is why isn’t Alex or Arizona handling the case instead of Meredith they are the pediatric doctors.

    • Rivera says:

      Jo (Camilla) might be representing Karev as she has been working on Pediatrics with him, and general surgeon i.e. Mer might be there because of some symptom related to general surgery? *Shooting blind arrows*

      • cdeno says:

        I can’t see Jo representing Alex since she is an intern, but who knows this is Shonda we are talking about so she does stuff that makes no sense to anyone but her.

    • Emma says:

      I was wondering that too, seems a little odd that for such a big case they wouldn’t have a qualified pediatric doctor on it.

    • Ana says:

      My same question and my same frustration. When was the last time we saw Arizona handle a peds case that did not involve Karev or was used as a catalyst for the lawsuit, like the recent case she had with Bailey which involved nothing medical, just caused her to agree to buying the hospital.

    • lorna says:

      The less of Arizona, the better. She’s a beeyatch to anyone who isn’t a kid.

    • Tinemi says:

      I’m going to guess here but maybe, if is a disease that can be confused with other things, they call Meredith first and then send the mom and the kid to the Pediatricians.

    • Jillian says:

      I have a feeling that their scene will have something to do with Meredith’s McBaby and that Peds will actually be handling the case. The article mentioned that she shared scenes with Ellen and Camilla but it did not say that her scenes were ONLY with Ellen and Camilla.

  8. carolann says:

    another great one for greys… that is anothr reason i enjoy the show so much alot of times they base stories on true events…. and its so informative… just wish my dr.s lookd that good. i wld be in the office a lot more often….

  9. I know Colin Farrells son also has this disease.

  10. Fabe says:

    What would be great is if she actually played Elliot Reid. Can you imagine the neurotic spazzing that would happen! Obviously, the tone of the episode would be much different haha.

  11. Dewsterling says:

    In the recent past, in severe cases, children with Kawasaki’s who where not treated quickly, developed heart/lung failure. Many needed heart-lung transplants. Most died.

  12. Ana says:

    Sounds like an interesting and emotional issue to tackle. Hopefully they will give it the screen time it deserves instead of following the recent trend of playing the medical stories as peripheral to whatever else is going on. And hopefully we will see Arizona and Alex involved in this case instead of, once again, having Meredith playing the hero and involved in the highest profiled cases even though they are not her specialty. It’s bad enough that now Karev is getting all the peds cases and we only get to see Arizona dealing with the personal or lawsuit related arcs.

  13. Kathleen says:

    In response to the comments indicating that Kawasaki Disease is being `sensationalized`….I have not seen the episode, nor do I plan to…but let me tell you this, the more people that are made aware that this disease even exists, the better. I can say this from personal experience because my first son died of Kawasaki Disease at 5 months old. Neither of the pediatricians to which I entrusted his care were able to diagnose him-we were admitted to the hospital, we were sent home-over and over again until well after the critical 10 day mark. I will say that it is not just parents that need to be made aware of this disease and its devastating consequences if left untreated-it is doctors as well. If this show can bring to light the seriousness of this disease and if it saves even one parent from having to desperately try to resuscitate their baby in full cardiac arrest, I say it`s about time.

  14. Leigh says:

    Well, I teared up reading the article and I can’t recall if I’ve ever seen Ms. Chalke on any show so me thinks this is going to be one to remember. Good.

  15. Ciara says:

    We went through it with our son Alfie then 3 and at the start we only took him to the hospital on day 7 because it got to the point that we couldnt keep his temp down all the other symptoms were there the red lips and tonge the red hands and feet and the uncontrolable temp but we didnt know what we were looking for and had never heard of Kawasaki diease before.The hospital when we went it just thought it was viral and sent us home with an appointment to come in a week later (day 14) when we went back in the skin was peeling off his hands and feet and then it was a foreign doctor that diagnosed KD. Thankfully a year and a half later after alot of meds and scans our son is fine but his to go for annual heart scans. We were very lucky that the doctor caught it in time but it could have been so much worse.

  16. kieran McColgan says:

    Our son Ryan was diagnosed with KD on the 14th day after so many misdiagnosis. This will be a very emotional watch, but I’m so glad it will raise much needed awareness for this disease.

  17. Ellen says:

    Misdiagnoses can happen, especially if the disease is difficult to diagnose. Misdiagnoses can also happen if several different diseases have the same symptoms. It’s just the way it is, and we must accept it. However, what we must not accept is when the doctor blames the patient for the misdiagnosis. It’s hard to tell if that was the case with Sarah Chalke and her family. But anyone who has had a difficult-to-diagnose case knows that blaming the patient is quite common. Patients are either stonewalled or retaliated against if they speak up. It’s great that Sarah Chalke can speak up and be heard. As an actress, she can reach a great deal of people with her campaign to publicize Kawasaki Disease. The rest of us don’t have that opportunity regarding health care. We just have to keep plugging away patiently, through every outlet we can find, until someone listens and takes action.

  18. Sandy Franklin says:

    My daughter is 16 now, she got KD when she was 6 years old. Her aneurysms have continued to expand. The biggest is 26.5mm X 26.5 mm. She will be having a double bypass operation soon, if we can find a surgeon will to do this in Portland, Oregon. Otherwise we will have to struggle with our insurance and have it done out of state.

  19. Rhonda says:

    Until you are a parent and experience what it is like to know you have a very sick baby, yet no one will listen, you have no idea how traumatic it is. Thankfully, my daughter has no memory of nearly starving to death, extreme vomiting, extreme diarrhea, internal bleeding in her stomach and bowels…but I do! All over a misdiagnosed allergy to Milk and Soy. I have never forgotten the doctor who finally listened to me and assured me that 99.9% of the time mothers know their babies and are if not for the gut feelings they have and determination to save their babies, many more would needlessly die.

  20. Molly says:

    I look forward to this episode because my nephew apparently has had this disease since he was a baby. Unfortunately I don’t know the particulars because my sister and I are estranged, but from what I’ve heard he apparently missed the treatment window and now as an adult has recurring episodes. Back then we had little information – so glad to see it’s getting attention.

  21. Wendy Higgins says:

    the late Jett Travolta was also diagnosed with this disease

  22. Alexis says:

    I am so sorry for the loss of your son I can not imagin…. Wishing you all the best Sandy with your daughter.

    This is wonderful I love Greys and Sarah Chalke is great actress I am very excited to watch this one.

    My daughter had KD when she was 9 months old took 14 days to be diagnosed took 5 different visit to 2 different hospitals our own peds all kept telling us its just a cold nothing we can do for her finally on day 14 our baby had full blown all systoms blood shot eye red lips strawberry toung rash head to toe red swollen hands and feet peeling skin on her hands and feet refusing to breastfeed or take a bottle she would have this blood curdling screams unless she was in someones arms she was in so much joint pain from head to toe fever from 102-104 that wouldnt go down she was of course deyhdrated so bad her forhead was indented and eyes were sunk in the scarest time of our lifes. we took her to a walkin clinic and the dr there (may she rest in peace) really looked at her and knew something wasnt right and put us in contact with a new Peds in our area and went and seen him and he looked at her for 10 secs and rushed out of the room to called the Hospital to have a room ready for her then he can in and told us she had KD and needs IVG teatment in the hospital but even knowing what she had the hospital still treated her like what she had could of been passed along to someone else.

    Our baby girl was given high does of low dose asprin for over 3 years having to have her heart monitered closely she had 2 anurisums in both her main arteries finally Jan 2011 her heart scans showed no more anurisums so she was taken off asprin and given a clear bill of health was one of the happiest days of our lifes

    19 out of 20,000 children will get this rare disease

    1 treatment of IVG takes 1000 people donating blood

  23. Victoria says:

    My daughter had Kowasaki’s when she was 2. I had never heard of KD before, but looked up the symptoms and thought it was Kowasaki’s before I even took her to the Dr. I found the information in “What to Expect the Toddler Years” . The Dr. confirmed what I thought and she received treatment on Day 3. Most People I speak to have never heard of it so I am glad it is being talked about on this show, but parents need to be proactive and question & push doctors if need be. If it doesn’t feel right challenge it!

  24. Dinah says:

    Wow, this article brought back a lot of scary memories — my oldest son was diagnosed with KS when he was 2. He’s now a healthy 25!

  25. patsy says:

    My daughter had KD when she was 6. She seemed fine until the one night she complained about her tongue , when she showed me her tongue it was coated in white like when a baby has thrush , The next day she wasn;t any better so I took her to the clinic where the doctor we saw suspected this, she had the peeling on the hands and feet and her tastebuds were inflamed .He sent us to the hospital to see a pediatrician where he confirmed the diagnosis. They gave her gamma globulin for 12 hours and aspirn .She was there for three days and then given an ecocardiogram and came home. She had to take aspirn for three months then went for another ecocardiogram and then one more at six months after having it and they said everything was fine. It was scary when they started talking about possible side effects such as causing annuryisms around the heart.I am glad the doctor we saw diagnosed it right away and she was treated immeidiately

  26. Steph says:

    my hubby had it when he was 4, he was extremely sick and he had an allergic reaction to asprin they gave him to bring the fever down. He was in the hospital for 6 to 8 weeks. I could see that a parent would be freaked out. His mother tells me about it and remembers it like it was yesterday. It is rare and was not well known about 30 to 35 years ago when he had it. The medicine today has improved and doctors now know more about it.

  27. andipandi10 says:

    Grey’s Anatomy is my favorite show, and this is one episode I’m really looking forward to. I have enjoyed Sarah Chalke’s shows and movies since “Roseanne.” I think she’s going to be absolutely phenomenol in this role as she relives this emotional rolller coaster.

  28. Donita Davis says:

    My son had KD about 25 years ago. The Dr then told us it was too new to them so they really didn’t know how to treat him. Thank God he had a mild case but all the symptoms. They checked his heart and it was normal but now I am worried that it may have damage that could show up in his later years. I watch Grey’s and will look forward to this episode.



  30. janes7 says:

    My nephew had KD when he was about 4. SO very scary and 3 hospitals later and a lot of wrong meds given they finally diagnosed this awful syndrome. It is rare and really no one I have ever spoken to about this knows what I am talking about. It is nice to see a famous person with pull tell their story so others can be enlightened. I hope this helps so many others. My nephew is a healthy 9 year old boy now Thanks to god and Rainbows babies and childrens hospital…but I know others may not have been as lucky. Thank you Mrs. Sarah Chalke
    Sincerly, Sarah J

  31. Tina B says:

    Way to go Sarah! I hope your son has no lasting effects or future issues from this disease. In this day when overbooked doctors rush through exams, patients and their parents have to be their own advocate. You may have saved some people a few steps in their search for a diagnosis. I wish you and your family good health.

  32. Valerie M says:

    Our son had it when he was 8 months old. He is now going to be 32! He was treated by alternating aspirin and tylenol every 2 hrs. He did end up with aneurysms on his aorta but eventually recovered – they went away without causing further problems. He was followed on a regular basis for about 5 years. He always checked out fine. Just before he was 21, I had him checked again and things were still well. At that point, the cardiologist said that he has no more chance of developing heart problems than anyone else. We are very lucky – they didn’t even have the gammaglobulin at that time!

  33. kjh2012 says:

    KD is one of 16 types of Vasculitis. Other types can affect kids adults and seniors. You can learn more about KD and other forms with equally baffling symptoms/series oif misdiagnoses at the VasculitisFoundation.org.

  34. Catherine Lamanque says:

    This was done on General Hospital a few years back the character Maxie (Kristin Storm) was around 5 or 6 and was dianogsed with KD and they did a information segement also.

  35. vps says:

    I think your blog is great. You write about very interesting things. Thanks for all the tips and information

  36. Pamela says:

    My son had KD when he was 4 & it was the most devastating time in my life. The worst part was seeing this little boy suffer while he was getting sicker everyday & our pediatricians not being able to help him. After several visits to the doctors & placed on two different antibiotics as well as being sent home the first time from the hospital, I thank God that we took him back to the hospital & demanded he be admitted. It took up to the 14th day of being seen by several doctors while suffering with a continuous fever, red tongue & eyes, paled skin, & by this time severely pealing skin of the hands & feet to finally be diagnosed by a foreign doctor who recognized KD instantly from previous cases he had treated in other countries. Luckily my son received the gamma globulin, had an echocardiogram which showed swollen blood vessels around his heart, took aspirin for three months & has had two follow up cardiologist appt’s since. Today he is 8 & healthy but I will never forget that experience & definitely believe that all medical staff, especially pedestrians need to be trained to identify the symptoms of this horrific timely disease before its too late. I’m glad that a show as popular as Greys Anatomy is bringing this important topic to television & I sympathize with everyone who has experienced this disease.

  37. Christine says:

    I was diagnosed with KD when I was 13, 30 years ago. A basically unheard of disease back then. I’m glad to know this is getting some spotlight.

  38. jenelle winchester says:

    I am from Trinidad and Tobago. I live in Tobago my kid had the symptoms wen she was 3mths old in 2009. since then its been a hell of a battle because the doctors had never seen such a thing and didn’t no how to treat it. I would often get sent home from the hospital with only panadol and before you no it I was right back at the hospital. I went from one pediatrician to the next. I spent money beyond my means looking for the answer until finally in 2011 she was diagnosed with the disease and on day 9 is when she received the immuno-globin treatment. she is the only person in Tobago with the disease and 100 patient in Trinidad. even with that treatment she still had like 3 to 5 episodes of the symptoms a year.her last being in January 2013. im truly greatful for them doing the show and highlighting this disease.

  39. If you don believe have a look on it then you will realize the reality

  40. Reblogged this on youngandarticulate and commented:
    Go Sarah Chalke!