Paige Franklin enjoys the spring sunshine with her miniature horse Jimmy at her home near Ruch Tuesday. She will appear on TV’s “ER” show Thursday night. - Jamie Lusch

Girl from Ruch to appear on 'ER'

Paige Franklin has never seen "ER" on television, but she'll make a guest appearance Thursday in the popular medical drama's penultimate episode.

The girl from Ruch will play a kid with heart disease who visits a summer camp designed to give youngsters with heart disease a good time. It's a role she knows all too well — at age 6 Paige was stricken with Kawasaki disease, a rare ailment that can cause serious heart problems if it's not caught early.

She's part of a cast of 40-some kids who have spent time on Camp del Corazon, on California's Catalina Island, where they enjoy the things other kids do, like climbing rocks and playing ball. Actor Tom Arnold, a supporter of the camp, arranged for the campers to appear on the show, both to promote the camp and to offer them a unique chance to be on TV.

"They get to go there for a week. The parents get a break and the kids just get to be normal kids," said Sandy Franklin, Paige's mom.

"It's really a special place. We're pretty excited they wrote Camp del Corazon into the show. Maybe it will raise some awareness"¦ and she had a good time."

Franklin took her 12-year-old daughter to Hollywood in February to shoot the scenes. Paige said the experience was fun, but wasn't all vacation.

"I missed school for a week, but I had to take my homework and still do it," she said Tuesday.

"I e-mailed all my friends to tell them I was going to be on TV and when I got back to school they all started screaming. It was hilarious. They were all excited," she recalled.

The show is scheduled to air at 10 p.m. Thursday on KOBI-TV Channel 5, with the Grace Christian School sixth-grader appearing in four scenes.

Unlike many of the campers in the cast, Paige has not had heart surgery, but her bout with Kawasaki disease left her with a number of serious heart problems. She has to take blood thinners daily, and doctors monitor her heart regularly.

"We're basically faced with four or five life-threatening scenarios that could happen at anytime," her mother said.

"She feels fine, looks fine, acts fine"¦ but she tires easily and she can't do contact sports because, if she gets hit hard, that could be it.

"That could be goodbye."

Kawasaki disease affects about 19 children in every 100,000 live births and starts with a persistent high fever (around 104 degrees) that can last for two weeks. It's most common among children of Japanese and Korean origin, and often strikes children under the age of 5. Treated early, patients can recover fully within a few days.

Paige doesn't let her heart condition slow her down. She rides horses, and has her own list of chores that includes mucking out the stalls for her family's eight horses and feeding pigs.

She didn't catch the acting bug in Hollywood.

"You have to do the same thing over and over and over again," she said.

"I don't think I would be an actress."

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at

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