What started off as an ordinary day almost caused Kayla St. Pierre to die from a rare, but potentially deadly, bacterial infection called meningococcal disease. She survived, but not without fighting for her life—a fight that required a medically induced coma, amputations of her limbs, as well as a kidney transplant and extensive rehabilitation.
One morning in March 2000, Kayla went to school as normal, but as the day went on, she began to feel terribly ill. She left school early, complaining of pain in her legs. Concerned, her parents took Kayla home to rest, but unfortunately she was not getting better. Within hours of the first symptoms she could not walk and discovered a purple rash on her body. Her parents took her to Lawrence General Hospital in Lawrence, Massachusetts, where doctors recognized the illness as meningococcal disease and transported her to Children’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. Kayla’s illness was severe, but could have been worse if not detected early; since meningococcal disease intensifies quickly and the lack of early diagnosis can lead to death.
Doctors were forced to place Kayla in a medically induced coma to help her body fight the disease. Then, in order to save her life, they had to amputate Kayla’s legs below the knee and some of her fingers. Later, as a result of the illness, Kayla experienced organ damage commonly associated with the potentially fatal infection, and underwent a kidney transplant.
For three months, Kayla received extensive medical care at Children’s Hospital, and she was then moved to Boston’s Shriner’s Hospital for rehabilitation. After nearly 11 months in the hospital and extensive rehabilitation she was ready to be released.
Kayla is now a college student and enjoys many sports including snowboarding, mono-skiing, playing ping-pong and hanging out with her friends. She plans to purue a career in the medical field, possibly a nurse, to give something back to the nurses and doctors that helped her through her illness.