Krissy Hennis Green, a resident of Carrollton, is shedding light on a rare and debilitating condition known as Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis, coinciding with Encephalitis Awareness Month this February.

Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis, often referred to as “Brain on Fire,” is a rare form of autoimmune encephalitis characterized by the body producing antibodies that attack the NMDA receptors in the brain. These attacks disrupt communication between the brain and the body, leading to a range of severe symptoms.

Green’s journey with the disease began with the discovery of a softball-sized teratoma, a type of germ cell tumor, on her ovaries in November 2020. This teratoma, a tumor containing hair, teeth, and even its own brain cells, triggered her specific case of encephalitis. However, it wasn’t until Dec. 24, 2020, when she met with her new gynecologic oncologist, Dr. Sareena Singh, that she received a proper diagnosis. Surgery to remove the teratoma and a total hysterectomy followed on Dec. 25, 2020.

The period between the onset of symptoms and diagnosis was tumultuous, with Hennis Green spending seven weeks in the hospital, including nine days on a ventilator. She was later transferred to Cleveland Clinic for further care and spent 2.5 weeks in Woodlawn rehab to regain basic motor functions.

Reflecting on the months leading up to her illness, Green recalled experiencing frequent headaches and extreme fatigue. Her condition rapidly deteriorated, with symptoms progressing from hallucinations and difficulty swallowing to heart palpitations and paralysis within just 18 hours. Subsequently, she underwent extensive treatments, including eight months of chemotherapy and therapy.

Unfortunately, Green experienced a second flare-up of the condition in September 2022, requiring additional rounds of treatment. Another flare-up occurred on Dec. 28, 2023,necessitating ventilation and further treatment. Currently, she is being referred to a Neuroimmunologist at Cleveland Clinic in hopes of developing a regimen to prevent future flare-ups by managing her immune system’s response.

Krissy Hennis Green’s journey serves as a poignant reminder of the challenges faced by individuals battling rare diseases like Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis and underscores the importance of increased awareness and research efforts during Encephalitis Awareness Month.