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Purdue Student Makes ‘Miracle’ Recovery From Serious Illness

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Rebeka Kasper spent three weeks battling a combination of mononucleosis, two strains of streptococcus virus, toxic shock syndrome and pneumonia. She recovered in time for Christmas in what doctors called a miraculous turnaround in her health. (Credit: CBS)

Rebeka Kasper spent three weeks battling a combination of mononucleosis, two strains of streptococcus virus, toxic shock syndrome and pneumonia. She recovered in time for Christmas in what doctors called a miraculous turnaround in her health. (Credit: CBS)

Pamela Jones Pamela Jones
Pamela Jones serves as a general assignment reporter for CBS 2...
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CROWN POINT, Ind. (CBS) – Some are calling it a Christmas miracle. A 20-year-old woman from northwest Indiana, on the brink of death just a couple of weeks ago, recovered just in time for Christmas.

As CBS 2’s Pamela Jones reports, Rebeka Kasper might look like the picture of health today, but a few weeks ago, she was near death.

“It’s kind of a miracle,” she said.

Kasper was at school at Purdue University in West Lafayette when she came down with mononucleosis.

“I had never, ever experienced anything like that in my life, where I couldn’t even stand. Like, I couldn’t stand in the shower. I’d sit down in the shower. And I’ve never had to do that in my life,” Kasper said.

But when she came back to her home in Crown Point to recover, doctors found out mono wasn’t the only illness she was fighting. She had a super-infection – two strains of streptococcus virus – plus toxic shock syndrome and pneumonia.

Kasper’s mom rushed her to the emergency room at nearby Franciscan St. Margaret Health.

To the 20-year-old, getting rolled into intensive care was all a blur.

“I couldn’t breathe. Like, I kept breathing really heavy,” Kasper said.

Dr. Matthew Meyer said Kasper’s condition was “as serious as it gets.”

“She was near death many times,” registered nurse and ICU manager Erin Keith added.

A team of staff members treated Kasper in the intensive care unit for more than 20 days. They said her organs were shutting down.

“She was on a machine to work for her kidneys, the dialysis machine. She was on the ventilator … which obviously helped her breathe. She had four chest tubes in,” Meyer said.

“The ventilator, like, I don’t even remember it,” Kasper said. “To think that my kidneys were failing and I was on dialysis, like, my aunt had to go through something like that. So, like, picturing myself on a machine like that, I can’t even picture it.”

Respiratory therapist Diane Orose said, “The very first time that I saw her smile at me and the first time I heard her voice brought me to tears.”

Just before Christmas, Kasper was smiling and celebrated Thanksgiving on Christmas Eve with her family.

She still has to take intravenous antibiotics, but she plans to return to college next month.

“I start school (January) 9th, and my doctors are okay with me, they’re on board for it. So, as long as I keep progressing and getting stronger, I mean, if I can carry a book bag, I’m going,” Kasper said.

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