GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – A Portage girl who nearly died from equine encephalitis is currently in rehabilitation at Grand Rapids.
After weeks in the intensive care unit of Bronson Methodist Hospital 14-year-old Savanah DeHart was admitted to the Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital on September 5.
"It beats the odds. I mean, even when we were here for the first time, I do not think their prognosis was so good, I would say. And she does things that she did not think they would do, or sometimes a little faster than they thought. But it definitely exceeds all expectations, "said her mother Kerri Dooley.
Savanah started showing symptoms on August 1
"She started to behave a little differently. She had a bad headache and I just call her lethargic and zombie-like. "Said her mother.
Savanah's family sent her to the emergency room at Bronson Methodist Hospital, but her condition continued to worsen.
The next morning Savanah needed a ventilator to breathe.
"The hardest part was August 22, the day she told us, they told us she would not make it. And the swelling got so bad that it went into her spinal cord and they did not think there was a return of it. It's a complete stroke from that day to today, "Dooley said in an interview with Mary Free Bed.
At first, the doctors thought Savanah had meningitis. Nine days after their illness, they had an answer: EEE.
The mosquito-borne infection has already infected 10 people in West Michigan this year four of whom have died.
"I Feel as if we were the lucky ones, so to speak. Um, but it's pretty devastating, "said Dooley.
" No child, no family expects this to happen. And it comes out of the blue. And it can be very devastating, "Dr. Douglas Henry of Mary Free Bed.
Dooley said her daughter suffered ministrokes during her stay in Bronson, resulting in some brain damage. Doctors are not sure if the damage is reversible, but they are confident.
"We generally see younger brains recover better after an injury, a virus, or a stroke. That's why we're more optimistic about her than if she were much older, "said Henry, who's on the team of pediatric specialists helping with Savanah's therapies.
Dooley says it's unclear if her daughter will ever walk or talk again, but that's her goal.
"I just want her to be able to say hello mom, hello daddy, and hug us. "
" That must be very scary for Savanah to be in that state. Because I think she's pretty much aware of her condition and it needs to be very reassuring when her parents are on the bed, "Henry said.
At this point, Dooley says her daughter can lift her arms Hit a ball and turn her head.
"Simple things that you and I really like here, but not so much for you. But it was pretty cool to see, "said Dooley.
"… We have finally reached this milestone, where it can consistently follow a simple direction. Sometimes it takes a few seconds, but she can follow a direction to say she is moving one of her arms. And that's huge, "said Henry.
"She fights and will get there," Dooley swore to the followers.
Savanah is a freshman at Vicksburg High School. Her mother says the charity volleyball games that Savanah's old and new schools have held are just some of the support her family has experienced around the world. "It was very humiliating," said Dooley Appears 3-10 days after someone was bitten by an infected mosquito. It's unclear where Savanah was or what she did when she got sick.
When it comes to electrical and electronic equipment, Savanah's mother has a warning word for all:
"It's real and it's out there using protection." Use the DEET (repellent), spray your lawn, watch for symptoms. We did not think of a headache, we did not think of headache or abdominal pain or anything like that until it came at a time when there was no going back.
MDHHS on the eruption of electrical and electronic equipment