A Waikanae teenager has a long road to recovery as he fights a rare syndrome that has shut his body down.
Conor Farrow, 14, is in the Wellington Hospital intensive care unit, in an induced coma, as medical specialists try to get on top of the condition called Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS).
The syndrome causes the immune system to attack and damage the body's nervous system.
The cause of GBS is unknown but the Health Navigator New Zealand website said it seems to occur after a viral or bacterial infection, affecting about 40 to 100 New Zealanders each year.
It has caused paralysis throughout Conor's body to the point where he is unable to speak or breathe on his own hence the induced coma.
He has a strong support network around him especially his parents Becky and Matt, younger brother Cameron, and many others.
Conor, a sporty youngster who goes to Kāpiti College, became unwell about two weeks ago with what seemed to be a common cold.
He had a few days off school and seemed to come right, but then things started to deteriorate quickly including a migraine that wouldn't budge.
Conor went to an after-hours medical practice in Paraparaumu where he was given pain relief for his migraine and something to help with his nausea.
But nothing seemed to help and then alarmingly he lost feeling in his legs after pins and needles in his feet crept upwards.
Becky rang the family doctor who advised them to take Conor to Kenepuru Hospital which in turn led to Wellington Hospital.
Conor underwent a series of tests, with paralysis continuing up his body, trying to determine what was wrong; one of the tests showed that he had the flu even though he had been vaccinated.
After a few days a diagnosis of GBS was given but by that stage the paralysis had advanced to his respiratory system meaning he wasn't able to breathe or swallow on his own, or even move, so he was put into an induced coma.
"It was really scary seeing him like that," Becky said.
Conor is still in an induced coma while infusion treatment is given – it's a waiting game to see how he responds.
"If the treatment doesn't work, they will take all of the plasma out of his body, wash it, and put it back in, which is pretty phenomenal."
Becky said the hospital staff had been incredible throughout.
"I can't speak highly enough of them."
Generally, recovery from GBS can take six to eight months, and Conor's family is prepared for the long haul.
"It will be quite some time in hospital and then, depending on how he gets on, it will be home in a wheelchair and doing physio and rehabilitation, or if he's not making enough progress as they expect, then he will go to a centre in Auckland for rehab.
"Conor is so sporty so it will be really tricky for him having to learn how to use his limbs again."
Becky said there had been lots of tears.
"It's absolutely heartbreaking and devastating to see your son like this.
"Without a doubt the hardest thing we've been through as a family.
"But you just have to be strong for your children and do the best you can to be positive.
"And it certainly helps to have an amazing support network around us."
She said support from so many quarters had been overwhelming.
"We are so humbled by the support and kindness from the community, and our friends and family."
Becky is a teacher at Raumati Beach School but has been by her son's side since he was admitted to hospital.
"School has been really amazing and sent some lovely gift packs.
"Mike Farrelly, the principal, rang me the other day to check in and say everyone was thinking of us."
A Givealittle page, called Conor's Road to Recovery, has raised nearly $20,000 so far to help ease the financial strain.
The page will remain open until the end of the year.