Janesville woman spreads awareness for Moyamoya Disease

Moyamoya Disease is a condition that affects the blood vessels in the brain.
Published: May. 5, 2022 at 10:15 PM CDT|Updated: May. 5, 2022 at 10:26 PM CDT
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JANESVILLE, Wis. (WMTV) - Ahead of World Moyamoya Day Friday, a day where people around the globe raise awareness for those with Moyamoya Disease, a Janesville woman shares her experience.

Moyamoya Disease is a condition that affects the blood vessels in the brain.

Karla Hendrickson has had the disease for two years, which only one in 100,000 fight. Hendrickson first had a stroke in February of 2020 and it took two surgeries to her brain to redirect blood flow to fix the blockages.

Neurosurgeon Mustafa Baskaya at UW Health, Hendrickson’s doctor, explained the disease further. “Moyamoya” means “puff of smoke” in Japanese, which is used to describe the look of a tangle of vessels formed to make up for the blockage.

“It’s involving the brain arteries and they get, over time, smaller and smaller, very diminutive, and they cannot supply blood to the brain anymore,” Baskaya said.

From there, Hendrickson had to relearn how to walk and take care of herself.

“We’re warriors, we don’t give up, we’re few and far between, but together we’re mighty,” Hendrickson said.

Hendrickson said her father, James, was a huge source of support for her before he died last year. Now, she looks to others with the disease for encouragement. She joined a Moyamoya support group on Facebook. Hendrickson and her cat, Cuddlebug, also keep each other company.

“I’m not the same person I was before; I can’t do makeup, I can’t do my hair, I can’t do contacts, but I’m here for a reason, and I’m going to keep going,” Hendrickson said.

Hendrickson will need to undergo brain scans to make sure a blockage doesn’t happen again for the rest of her life. Her goal now is to spread awareness about the disease.

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