Local school shows support for boy who has been in medically induced coma for 70 days


CLEVELAND (WJW) — A Lake County family is going through a tough fight as their son lies in the hospital under a medically induced coma with a rare disease.

The Riverside Middle School football team sent their thoughts during practice Tuesday to Ashton Staton, who wears the number 13.

Their helmets now have 13 on them and the team made #StatonStrong t-shirts.

“He loves his baseball, he loves football, he loves basketball, he even loves UFC,” said Ashton’s father Matt.

The 12-year-old athlete is fighting a rare disease that crept up as he started conditioning for sports in June. 

“Really bad headaches it started with, migraine-type like headaches,” said Matt.

Ashton was admitted to Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital and diagnosed with anti-NMDA encephalitis, a disease where the immune system starts attacking the brain.

Dr. Hesham Abboud is the Director of Neuroimmunology at University Hospitals.

He has never treated Ashton but is an international expert on the condition. 

“Although the disease looks really kind of devastating initially, actually the rates of recovery are actually very good. Most patients actually do recover but the recovery is a little bit protracted. So, it takes some time for the patients to recover,” he said.

The majority of his more than 70 days in the hospital have been in a medically induced coma due to seizures, and Ashton’s parents haven’t left his side.

“We read to him, we talk to him, we praise over him, watch movies with him, yeah every day,” he said.

Fundraisers and bake sales have been held, one raising $1300.

At school, Ashton’s locker is decorated with his jersey and notes of prayers and his classmates even “reserved” his desk for when he returns.

“The compassion that other 12-year-old, 12 maybe 13-year-old kids have is just beyond me,” said Matt.

Matt says Ashton isn’t awake yet but has started to make some movements like opening his eyes slightly. 

“They have seen some improvements in the EEGs and you know it’s really encouraging but until you get that underlying cause knocked out it’s really tough to say,” he said.

They ask for prayers and for people to be present with their own loved ones. 

“Please hug them, embrace them and let them know that you love them because, you really never know,” he said.

There are more fundraisers planned for Ahston and his family.

A GoFundMe page has also been set up to help with medical expenses.

They say people have been reaching out from around the world.

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