On Jamie Schanbaum's Medical Situation

Jamie came into Seton Hospital on November 13th. That morning she thought she was having an asthma attack and luckily Roni (her sister) just happened to call her. Jamie said she didn't have any puffs left in her inhaler and asked Roni to get her another one, but by the time she got back Jamie was blue. They rushed to the hospital where they quickly learned that it wasn't an asthma attack, but something a lot more serious. It took a couple of stressful days in the ICU before we were told she had really contracted meningococcemia.

This is similar to meningitis but instead of infiltrating the brain and spinal cord, this bacteria infected her blood and has a higher fatality rate than meningitis. We were later told by the state health department that 1 in 10 people are a carrier of this particular bacteria which resides in the nose or throat. You can have it and not be affected by it, but something as simple as a cold or a stomach virus can cause this bacteria to work its way into your blood system, which is what happened to Jamie. Jamie's body went into shock rather quickly and all the blood in her body rushed to her vital organs to try and keep her healthy. But part of what this bacteria does is cause damage to her circulation and blood clotting, so when her blood attempted to return to her extremities the damage was done and proper circulation never returned to her hands and feet.

Another aspect of this infection, as I mentioned, are problematic blood clots. She developed irregular splotches all over her body from her blood sporadically clotting. Unfortunately this infection is extremely dangerous. Essentially her blood was poisoned and everything her blood passed through was damaged to some degree, starting with her kidneys. They considered her to be suffering from multiple organ failure. Pretty soon after arriving at the hospital her kidneys failed and she was put on dialysis. Luckily, after two days of dialysis her kidneys began to function properly on their own and they took her off of it.

A day or two later her lungs couldn't keep up with her and Jamie was sedated and put on a ventilator, which is pretty much how she remained for the next 9 to 10 days. She only just had the ventilation tube removed on November 24th, when they decided that her breathing was strong enough for it to be removed. This happened just in time, because had she not started to breathe better on her own they would have put a tracheotomy in her, which is extremely problematic because she was likely to bleed and not coagulate the way normal blood should.

Jamie's blood was, and still is, extremely week and her platelet level was really low. A healthy person's platelet level is anywhere from 150 to 500. Jamie's platelet level was initially at 8. Once the level reaches 7.5, a person becomes high risk for spontaneous bleeding. Over the past 2 weeks, her platelet level has finally started to stabilize itself and is currently at 203, which is GREAT. Her body is finally starting to make a turn for the better. Her vitals are slowly but surely steadying out, with a few hiccups here and there. But we're finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, at least with respect to the fight for Jamie's life.

So, right now (November 25th), we're trying to weigh out our options for the future. The biggest obstacles we're going to face involve the necrosis that has developed in her extremities. Jamie lost blood flow in the tips of her fingers and toes/feet, and although its extremely unlikely that it will return, we remain hopeful. So along with the support that Jamie will require in this extremely trying time, we're also asking for any advice, assistance or even references (as far as vascular reconstruction, prosthetics, skin grafts, or plastic surgery). Any and all help will be invaluable, and if that isn't an option then please keep her in your prayers. Support in any form or fashion is greatly appreciated.