The Charlie FoundationThe Charlie Foundation to Help Cure Pediatric Epilepsy was founded in 1994 after twenty month old Charlie Abrahams, having endured multiple daily seizures, and failed every available anti-convulsant drug and one brain surgery, was cured of his epilepsy by the ketogenic diet at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The diet was undertaken despite resistance from the five pediatric neurologists he had seen. When Charlie's parents realized that Charlie was but one of hundreds of thousands of children whose families were either not being informed, or being misinformed about dietary therapy, they started The Charlie Foundation.
About Meryl's involvementDirector Jim Abrahams made his mark, together with the brothers Jerry and David Zucker, co-writing and producing films such as "Airplane" and the "Naked Gun" series. After learning of the family's struggle with son Charlie's health, Meryl Streep decided to become involved in the fight to inform parents about the ketogenic diet. In 1994, she narrated and introduced the information video made by the Charlie Foundation.
A few months ago, my husband and I received a letter from our friends, Jim and Nancy Abrahams, who wanted to start up a new foundation in order to spread the word about the Ketogenic Diet. The letter began like this: 'Dear Meryl and Don. On March 11th, 1993, on his first birthday, I was pushing our son Charlie in a swing, when his head twitched and he threw his right arm up in the air. The whole event was so subtle I didn't even think to mention it to Nancy until a couple of days later when it recurred. She said she had seen a similar incident. That was the beginning of an agony I'm without words to describe. Nine months later, after literally thousands of a variety of epileptic seizures, an incredible array of drugs, dozens of blood draws, eight hospitalisations. A mountain of EEGs, MRIs, CAT Scans and PET Scans, one fruitless brain surgery, five pediatric neurologists in three cities, two homeopathists, one faith healer and countless prayers. Charlie's seizures were unchecked. His development delayed. And he had a prognosis of continued seizures and progressive retardation. Then, last December, we learned about an obscure diet, consisting mainly of fats, that benefited some kids with difficult to control seizures. The only institution that champions this diet is Johns Hopkins Hospital. Their dietitian, Mrs. Millicent Kelly, former dietitian in charge of John Hopkins nutrician clinic, has been profecting the Ketogenic Diet for over fourty years. We took Charlie there, he started the diet, and since Christmas 1993, he's been seizure and drug free.In 1997, Abrahams and Streep produced the ABC television movie "First do no Harm", fictionalising a particular case of a young boy with the disease. The film draws many parallels to the Abrahams family's experiences. Several minor characters in the film are played by people who have been on the ketogenic diet and had their epilepsy "cured" as a result. The dietitian Millicent Kelly played herself. Charlie Abrahams appeared as a young boy playing with Robbie in the hospital, whose mother quickly removes him when she discovers Robbie has epilepsy - as though it were an infectious disease. For her peformance as the boy's mother, Meryl Streep received a Golden Globe and Emmy Award nomination.
Links & ResearchThe Charlie Foundation official website
John Hopkins Hospital official website
First Do No Harm summary on the television film at Simply Streep
An Introduction to the Ketogenic Diet video hosted by Meryl Streep