It started with what seemed like a simple stomach ache. Nothing terribly unexpected, perhaps, for 7-year-old Charlotte Voss, who was likely spoiled with equal amounts of grandmotherly love and cooking during a July trip to her grandmother's house in Nebraska.
When Charlotte's stomach ache failed to get better and she began having bloody stools, her parents took her to a local hospital. At first, doctors thought it was a virus, Charlotte's mother, Kathy, tells the Rochester Post-Bulletin. Tests, however, revealed Charlotte's symptoms were bacterial. Charlotte was admitted and given IV fluids as her body "became wracked by diarrhea."
As Charlotte's condition worsened, the hospital recommended she be transferred to a critical care unit a couple of hours away. Instead, and "with medical permission," her parents drove her "seven hours through the night" back home to Rochester and Mayo Clinic Children's Center, where "a bed and team was waiting."
At Mayo, pediatric nephrologist David Sas, D.O., discovered the root cause of Charlotte's problems. She'd become infected with "the dangerous bacteria known as O157:H7 or STEC, for Shiga toxin-producing E. coli," the P-B reports. "It attaches itself to the insides of the intestine, rupturing the lining and producing bloody stool before entering the blood stream, where it travels the body, attacking all in its path," reporter Paul John Scott writes. "There is no antidote, only system support while the body waits for the illness to leave by way of the digestive system." Before it does, however, it wreaks havoc on blood vessels throughout the body. "It's a bad disease," Dr. Sas tells the newspaper.
Fortunately for Charlotte, she was under the close watch of Dr. Sas and his medical team. "Charlotte definitely kept us on our toes," he tells the Post-Bulletin. The team and family kept vigil as she endured numerous complications, including kidney failure, hemodialysis and a flash pulmonary edema. Dr. Sas says Charlotte, miraculously, is now on the mend. "She's finally started making urine and her lab results look better," he tells the paper, which leads him to believe "she's on the road to recovery."
The newspaper reports that Charlotte knows just who to thank for that. In a touching letter sent shortly after going back home, Charlotte told Dr. Sas and the rest of her care team that "we make a good team." You'll get no argument from her doctor. Charlotte's recovery revealed "an extraordinarily charming girl," says Dr. Sas, who tells the Post-Bulletin, "She's the same age as my daughter, so it definitely hits home."
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