The Peronas were understandably jubilant. They had added a bundle of joy to their Martinsville, New Jersey family when they adopted three-month-old Katherine from Korea. Initially, all went well. According to mother Heather, “She met all her milestones, and was a normal, happy child.”
When she started kindergarten, Katherine experienced small delays, but then seemed to catch up. However, when she got upset or frustrated, her mother noticed there was some dragging of her right leg. That turned out to be a warning sign. Ultimately, in the first grade, Katherine had a stroke. Taken by ambulance to the hospital, she was subsequently diagnosed with moyamoya disease.
Moyamoya disease is a very rare, progressive disorder—more commonly seen in children than adults—that causes the arteries of the brain to become blocked. The word “moyamoya” is Japanese for “puff of smoke.” This refers to the appearance of tiny vessels bunched up, which form to compensate for the blockage. In a 2014 National Institutes of Health (NIH) published analysis*, it was determined that a high incidence of moyamoya was shown in Asian countries, particularly Korea, Japan, Taiwan and China.