Lewis County businessman diagnosed with rare disorder

Sanford "Sam" Howard

Sanford “Sam” Howard

Lewis County businessman Sanford “Sam” Howard has been diagnosed with a rare disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system.
The diagnosis is Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). Most individuals reportedly have good recovery from even the most severe cases of GBS.
Howard was diagnosed with the disorder on Tuesday, April 19. It is unknown what may have triggered the syndrome.
His early symptoms were a nagging cough which began about April 16, and as symptoms progressed he was admitted to Southern Ohio Medical Center in Portsmouth, Ohio.
By April 19 his body was paralyzed and he was put on a ventilator to assist his breathing.
A family spokesperson said so far he has had five rounds of plasmapheresis, a process in which the liquid in the blood, or plasma, is separated from the cells.
In those with GBS the plasma can contain antibodies that attack the immune system. A machine removes the affected plasma and replaces it with good plasma, or a plasma substitute.
Howard is set to be transferred to the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington on Monday afternoon. A family member reports more aggressive treatment will be administered in the coming days.
Howard is the founder and CEO of Trace Creek Construction Company in Vanceburg. He is married to Julee Hasler Howard and his parents are Ervin and Panzie Howard.
The family has established a Facebook Page (Prayers For Sam #samstrong) for friends and family to share thoughts, feelings, prayers and messages.
The family requests continued prayer and is appreciative of all the support and expressions of concern they have received.
What is Guillain-Barré syndrome?
Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. The first symptoms of this disorder include varying degrees of weakness or tingling sensations in the legs. In many instances the symmetrical weakness and abnormal sensations spread to the arms and upper body. These symptoms can increase in intensity until certain muscles cannot be used at all and, when severe, the person is almost totally paralyzed. In these cases the disorder is life threatening – potentially interfering with breathing and, at times, with blood pressure or heart rate – and is considered a medical emergency. Such an individual is often put on a ventilator to assist with breathing and is watched closely for problems such as an abnormal heart beat, infections, blood clots, and high or low blood pressure. Most individuals, however, have good recovery from even the most severe cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome, although some continue to have a certain degree of weakness.
Guillain-Barré syndrome can affect anybody. It can strike at any age and both sexes are equally prone to the disorder. The syndrome is rare, however, afflicting only about one person in 100,000. Usually Guillain-Barré occurs a few days or weeks after the patient has had symptoms of a respiratory or gastrointestinal viral infection. Occasionally surgery will trigger the syndrome. In rare instances vaccinations may increase the risk of GBS.


At 6:50 p.m. Monday, Sam was transferred by medical helicopter to the ICU at University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington where a specialist in Guillain-Barré syndrome will preform aggressive treatments. He remains stable on a ventilator and is able to move his eyes to answer simple yes/no questions. Prayers requested as the family travels to Lexington, and to keep everyone safe.

The Howard family wants to thank all the staff at Southern Ohio Medical Center for the great treatment for Sam while he was in ICU there. The family expresses their appreciation for everything everyone has done and whose who have visited Sam.

They know this will be a long road ahead and the friends and family will be there each step to support. They ask for continued prayers for Sam as every prayer is appreciated.

It will be no time until Sam will be back to his old self and with who he loves, laughing and smiling doing what he loves best.

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