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Doctors struggling to diagnose LI toddler

Friends and neighbors are rallying around 2-year-old Brooke Corey, as doctors have been unable to diagnose the toddler, despite a battery of tests. 

Ken and Sheri Corey with their daughter Brooke,

Ken and Sheri Corey with their daughter Brooke, 2, at home in Mill Neck on Wednesday. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

A Mill Neck toddler has gone from being very energetic to spending most of her day in bed, and her doctors can’t figure out why.

Until two months ago, Brooke Corey was an active 2-year-old. She liked to sing nursery rhymes and wrestle with Chase, the family’s Shih Tzu.

But the fair-skinned child began to look even more pale than usual, said her mother, Sheri Corey. Her lips lost their color and the veins on her face stood out. When Brooke started running low-grade fevers, her parents took her to a doctor, who diagnosed her with anemia.

Brooke was treated with iron infusions but continued to lose weight — dropping from 30 pounds to 21 pounds in 10 days. She eventually would not walk or stand, her family said.

“Just a few weeks before, she was running around and climbing all over everything,” said Sheri Corey, 40. “All of a sudden she didn’t even want to get out of bed.”

An MRI revealed lesions throughout her leg bones — her femurs look like they’d been “moth-eaten,” said her father, Ken Corey, 50.

Doctors at multiple hospitals have ordered blood tests, MRIs, X-rays and bone biopsies, but have been unable to diagnose her condition, Brooke’s pediatrician, Greg Gulbransen, said.

“Believe it or not, no one could figure out what was wrong with her,” said Gulbransen, whose practice is based in Oyster Bay. “That’s despite lots of attempts by a lot of very smart people.”

In Gulbransen’s 24 years as a pediatrician, he has never seen a case like Brooke’s, where there “doesn’t appear to be any answers,” he said.

When neighbors learned about the situation a couple of weeks ago, they formed a virtual support group for the family, calling themselves “Brooke’s Brigade.” They started bringing over casseroles for dinner and volunteering to baby-sit the couple’s three other children, ages 8, 9 and 11. They also created a GoFundMe campaign to help cover the family’s medical bills, raising nearly $9,500 as of Wednesday.

On Oct. 29, Nassau Legis. Josh Lafazan (I-Woodbury) and several local organizations will host a fundraiser for Brooke at Oyster Bay Brewing Co.

“Everybody’s been so amazing and helpful,” said Ken Corey. “People in town I’ve never met before will tap me on the shoulder and ask me if they can do anything to help.”

Brooke still eats very little and is now fed through a nasogastric tube, which runs through her nose and passes nutrients into her stomach. She has gained a few more pounds but still appears to be in a fair amount of pain, her parents said. She has a hard time sleeping and sweats excessively, her mother said.

Specialists at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where Brooke spent a week undergoing her last battery of examinations, are trying to crack her case.

“We’re just praying for an answer right now,” Sheri Corey said. “Not knowing is every mother’s worst nightmare.”

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