Nashville woman partially paralyzed after rare reaction to COVID vaccine walks again

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Brandy Parker-McFadden walks with a purpose.

“My biggest motivation was to get home to my kids and my husband,” Parker-McFadden said.

Each small, slow, step a part of the story of her journey that started nearly four weeks ago when doctors say Brandy had an extremely rare reaction to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine that left her unable to move her legs. The therapy team wasn’t sure if she’d walk again.


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“First of all, I have a lot of people praying, and second of all, I will work really, really hard,” said Parker-McFadden.

A woman of her word, Brandy walked out of Vanderbilt Stallworth Rehabilitation Hospital 13 days later, thanks to countless hours of intensive therapy. Her therapists admit, when Brandy arrived, they weren’t sure how to treat her.

“I’ve never treated someone who’s had a Covid vaccine reaction who had paralysis,” said Connie Purdue a physical therapist at Stallworth. “Her legs, on what we grade on a scale from 0-5, 2 minus out of 5. Okay? So very weak.”

Each day brought a different challenge that Brandy faced with fierce fight.

“She looked at me and she said if you have any extra time in your schedule come and get me because I want to do more, and that’s exactly what I did,” said Karrah Allen, an occupational therapist at Stallworth.


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Which is why, lining that hospital hall, they cheered her on with such amazement.

“Every day she’s gotten better, better, and better. It’s been like a miracle!” exclaimed a teary-eyed Purdue.

As the active mother of three walked into the arms of her grateful children, her oldest son whispered, “Jesus, you’ve answered my prayers.”

She also shared a moment with her husband, James, that will linger for a lifetime.

“It’s amazing. As I walked up here, we danced for a minute,” said James as he wiped away tears.


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For Brandy and her family, their story is meant to inspire, “I think everyone wants to put me in a box. They either want me to be pro-vaccine or anti-vaccine.”

She said that’s not her purpose. She wants to highlight the importance of women’s health and if you have a reaction to a vaccine report it.

“This is the first case that they’ve seen here in Tennessee. We need to make sure that people know what to do, and we know how to help.”

If you have the slightest adverse reaction to a vaccine, you’re asked to report your symptoms to VAERS, the National Vaccine Safety Monitoring System.


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