Video: Curtis VB player returns after life-threatening disease

UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. - Over the summer months, many high school kids were busy working, on vacation or playing sports. But Curtis High School volleyball star Samantha Hutchinson spent hers battling a life-threatening disease.

"It was tough. That was one of the hardest things I've had to experience as far as one of my players," said Curtis head coach Jeff Grosshans.

On the court, Samantha is passionate, fierce and one of the best in the game. In May, she helped her club team win a tournament at the University of Washington. Two days later, she celebrated her 17th birthday with her twin brother. On June 7, she took another title at Alki Beach in Seattle.

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But three days after that, something went wrong.

"I woke up and with flu symptoms like stomach ache and headache," said Samantha.

"She was pretty lethargic and tired," said Samantha's dad, Rick.

"The next thing I knew, I fainted and hit my head on the bathroom floor," sad Samantha.

Rick rushed Samantha to Pediatrics Northwest in Tacoma. By the time they arrived, the purple rash had begun to appear on Samantha's skin. Dr. Mason Oltman knew this was now a race against time. Samantha was rushed to the emergency room at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital.

"They didn't know if she would make it," said Samantha's mom, Dana. "She was going into septic shock and her kidneys were already failing and they feared her lungs would go next."

"The last thing I remember is telling my dad to kiss me goodbye," said Samantha.

Daddy's little girl was now dying.

"That's how she remembers it. That was kind of sad," said Rick.

Samantha was hooked up to multiple IVs. She had to be put into an induced coma.

"They just said she is a very, very sick child," said Dana.

Doctors gave the Hutchinson family no guarantees. They said their daughter had meningococcal disease, a form of meningitis with a high mortality rate.

"Most kids don't make it as far as Samantha has," said Dana.

But thanks to quick responding doctors and a tough-willed Samantha, she would survive. After spending six days in a coma, the family finally got good news.

"I really didn't breathe a sigh of relief until she opened her eyes," said Dana.

"(I'm) still in shock about it that I'm here today talking about it this because most kids don't make it," said Samantha.

"Probably one of the happiest days in our lives," said Rick. "She's just a little miracle."

After spending 12 days at Mary Bridge, Samantha had one goal - get healthy enough to get back on the volleyball court.

"She kind of sucked it up and kind of realized what she needs to do to get better, get back on her feet," said Rick.

She may have lost a couple inches in her vertical jump and her endurance may not be the same, yet, but Samantha is back where she belongs.

"For everything that has happened, it all turned out well," said Samantha. "I feel pretty blessed."


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