Sharon Smith, the mother of Stephanie Smith, a Minnesota resident who has been hospitalized for months after eating a hamburger and becoming ill with E. coli poisoning, spoke with Kirsti Marohn of the St. Cloud Times for an article that appeared in today’s paper. She shared the story of the few days before Stephanie became ill with symptoms of E. coli infection, and of her hospitalization.
The 20-year-old dance instructor has undergone intensive medical treatment while doctors work to support her body. Five days after becoming ill, Stephanie was hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome and was placed in a coma when she began having seizures. As Kristi Marohn wrote:
Two months later, she remains in critical condition at St. Marys Hospital in Rochester, fighting for her life against a severe case of E. coli poisoning.
Doctors have told Sharon that Stephanie remains extremely critical. She was diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome, caused when E. coli toxins enter the bloodstream.
The severity of her case is very rare, similar to only a handful of others worldwide. Still, Sharon hasn’t given up hope that her only daughter, with her wide smile and warm personality, will pull through.
There are hopeful signs. Stephanie’s kidneys have started functioning again, and she no longer needs dialysis. But there are setbacks, too. Her tongue has swelled so doctors have had to prop her mouth open and put an oxygen mask on her. So far, attempts to lower the coma-inducing drugs have resulted in more seizures. She continues to breathe with the help of a respirator.
Stephanie’s is one of the most severe E. coli cases reported on in recent years, but she is not alone. Other E. coli victims from outbreaks this fall have also been hospitalized for lengthy periods – at least one other in a coma.