Saving Sammy

Saving Sammy

A Mother's Fight to Cure Her Son's OCD

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Saving Sammy

Saving Sammy:
A Mother’s Fight to Cure Her Son’s OCD


Saving Sammy: A Mother’s Fight to Cure Her Son’s OCD

Saving Sammy

When my middle son was twelve, he was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and then Tourette Syndrome. Confined to our home by the horror of his illness, a lifelong placement seemed his likely fate — until I learned that a strep infection might be the cause (a disorder known as PANDAS) Most doctors said I was wrong; but I was right, and two doctors helped me cure him. He is now fully recovered.

Published by Random House in 2009, the book has helped change the course of medicine and better the lives of countless children. Dearly loved by readers, SAVING SAMMY is empowering and uplifting.  It received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, a “stand up and cheer” review from Booklist, and multiple endorsements from physicians and others. In the words of one reader, “It had me in tears, smiling, laughing out loud, worrying, and rejoicing.”

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Praise for Saving Sammy


This stirring account of a mother’s determination and a boy’s astonishing bravery makes you want to stand up and cheer.


Maloney perseveres with ferocity and sharp storytelling instincts, making this medical mystery—meant to inform families dealing with mental illness—a tear-wrenching crowd-pleaser.

Publisher’s Weekly, (Starred Review)

A remarkable journey of a mother’s perseverance to save her son… may well hold the key to curing the lives of millions.

Daniel A. Geller, MD, Director, Pediatric OCD Program, Massachusetts General Hospital; Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

I’d never seen a child so sick or one who came so far. I think the difference was his mother. Her willingness to be aggressive and fight for her son may help in healing others.

Catherine D. Nicolaides, M.D., Children’s Specialized Hospital, New Jersey

Ms. Maloney urges us all to make a pivotal shift in how we look at mental illness and its cure. The quality of life for thousands, if not millions, of families depends on our doing so.

Tamar Chansky, PhD, Author, Freeing Your Child from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; Director, Children's Center for OCD and Anxiety, Plymouth Meeting PA


Are you saying that a strep infection caused your son’s mental illness?

Yes, strep has been linked to OCD, Tourette Syndrome, Anxiety, Anorexia, Trichotillomania (hair pulling), and a host of other behavioral disorders.

How does strep cause obsessive compulsive disorder?

Strep antibodies attack the brain, similarly to the way strep antibodies attack the heart in rheumatic fever.

What does PANDAS mean?

It’s an abbreviation for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections.

Was it easy to find treatment for PANDAS?

No, it was extremely difficult. Many doctors don’t believe that PANDAS exists, but I’m working hard to change that.

What inspired you to write the book?

I made a promise to God that I would get the information out about PANDAS, and I wrote the book that I wish someone had handed me. It would have saved us years of heartbreak.

What is your goal in writing the book?

I want to change the face of mental illness for children. I want doctors to rule out the possibility of a physical cause, like a bacteria or virus, before starting children on psychiatric medication.

It sounds like the book is full of medical information. is it hard to follow?

No. It’s a compelling mother-son story – a great read – not a textbook. The medical information is included in a way that is easily understandable.

How long did Sammy have a strep infection before you found out he had PANDAS?

We don’t know because he never had the typical symptoms of strep, not even a sore throat.

How is Sammy now?

Fully recovered; he has no symptoms of OCD or Tourette’s. He is not on any medication at all, and he graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a degree in computer science and mathematics.

Is there any easy way to describe PANDAS/PANS?

Yes. I call it “rheumatic fever of the brain.”