Apache Junction community rallies around police officer's family as wife battles rare disease
APACHE JUNCTION, Ariz. - An 11-year veteran of the Apache Junction Police Department known for helping others in the community is fighting a battle of his own.
Officer Josh DuPont's wife, Sarah, suffers from a disease known as Susac Syndrome.
"It’s a very rare autoimmune disease," said Sarah. "They say there are less than 500 cases worldwide since 1978, and I’'m one of them.
What is Susac Syndrome?
According to the Cleveland Clinic, Susac Syndrome is a disease where a person's immune system attacks the smallest blood vessels in the brain, the retina, and the inner ear.
"The blood vessels become blocked. Blocked or decreased blood flow through your blood vessels can cause problems in your brain, retina and inner ear," read a portion of the website.
The disease, according to the Cleveland Clinic, strikes three times as many women as men, and mostly affects people between the ages of 20 and 40. Symptoms vary from person to person, and correspond to the part of the body affected.
Sarah details ordeal
For Sarah, it began in 2019. She and her husband were expecting their second child when she realized that something was just off in her body.
"I woke up one day, and I just had ringing in my left ear. I didn’t know why," said Sarah. "I was pregnant, and we didn’t really tell anyone I was pregnant. We don’t know if being pregnant is what triggered it, because it didn’t happen with my first pregnancy, and each baby is different."
On New Year's Eve, Sarah ended up in the hospital. Her body rejected food, and the family was still left without answers. Finally, doctors figured out what was wrong, and diagnosed Sarah with Susac Syndrome.
Community rallies around family
With a world-class teaching hospital – Barrow Neurological Institute – right in their backyard. Sarah was lucky enough to know where to go for treatment. That, however, meant Josh needed to take time off work.
The community and Josh's police department stepped in to help.
"For a point there, I was off on FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) for an exorbitant amount of time, and I had exhausted all of my leave," said Josh. "Members of the PD and the city donated time, just to extend my time off."
All while Sarah was getting treatment, and after delivering their baby, officers were delivering meals to the DuPont's home. and the community started a GoFundMe to help them with the financial burden.
Nowadays, while Sarah’s vision has returned, her hearing has not. She is thankful to be a mother, and to be able to watch her kids grow up.
"I feel like I kinda missed out," said Sarah. "I mean, I missed a full year of Ainsley’s life, and I feel like now I’m back to it, and it feels good."
Both Sarah and Josh say they want to bring awareness to the rare disease.
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