(CBS) — A high school honor student is back home in west suburban Berkeley after a harrowing brush with death.
CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports it was a rare disease that almost killed her, but medical specialists in Alabama helped bring about a recovery her mother calls a miracle.
Last fall, 18-year-old Michelle Harris suddenly became very ill.
“I don’t know, I just started to feel weak,” she says.
Then she had trouble breathing and she couldn’t swallow. She was hospitalized at Rush and diagnosed with granulomatosis with polyangiitis, a rare auto immune disorder.
“The doctors told me, ‘say my goodbyes,”’ says Michelle’s mother Sharon Harris. “By me being a nurse and my daughter had just turned 18, I just looked at her, and I’m like, ‘No.'”
Michelle says she was “close to death.”
“You know how like when people say when you die, you see light?” Michelle says. “I saw a light and I remember people jumping up into it and when it was my turn, I didn’t jump and then the light just went away.”
On Christmas Eve, Michelle was airlifted to UAB Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama for a lung transplant, but she began to rebound so quickly, doctors decided it wasn’t needed after all.
Four days ago, she was released and came home to her sister, her dad and her mom, who is a breast cancer survivor.
“I have brought my family up to believe that when things get harder, you just get tougher and you pray,” Sharon says.
“I look back on her experience and thought if she could do it, I could do it,” Michelle says.
As she recovered in Alabama, Michelle, who’s an honor student at Proviso Math and Science Academy, kept up with her studies on line…and plans to graduate next month. She plans to become, like her mother, a nurse.
She’ll also make the senior prom in a few weeks and in a new dress and she’s got a date.