Doctors Save Girl Near Death From Swine Flu

Doctors use machine to save critically ill teenager

Doctors say a North Texas teenager with a severe case of swine flu was saved from the brink of death by special equipment that took over for her failing heart.

Jessica Samples, 15, of Keller, said she first started feeling ill September 26th. “My hands and my feet were numb and I was having problems breathing and I was restless,” Samples said.

Her mother said within 48 hours, Jessica was so ill that doctors at Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth requested consent for treatment with a special machine that she might not survive.

“But that was the only fighting chance that she had,” Andrea Samples said. “So I looked at the doctor and said; ‘I put my daughter in your hands and god’s hands and please save us.’”

The machine called ECMO, for Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation, is a heart lung bypass device.  It took over the work of Jessica’s ailing heart.

“She had a very severe case of heart disfunction resulting from her flu,” said Dr. Linda Thompson.  “Without the ECMO machine, we think that she would not have lived.”

Dr. Thompson specializes in pediatric critical care at Cook Children’s.  “A lot of hospitals in the country don’t have the capability to do the ECMO machine and we have an excellent program here,” Dr. Thomspon said.

Jessica spent five days on the machine with tubes that made speaking difficult. Her mother said she knew things were improving when Jessica wrote a note asking for Starbucks, one of her favorite treats.

“It was a miracle machine,” said Andrea Samples. 

Friday, Jessica Samples was well enough at the hospital to walk around and share her story with reporters.  The high school sophomore also credits God and prayer for her recovery and believes he has something special in store for her. “He’s gotten me through this and he can get me through anything.”

After 3 weeks of suffering with the Swine Flu, Jessica Samples hopes to go home from Cook Children’s Hospital this weekend.

Contact Us