One student’s triumph over illness

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Sophomore Dani McClain smiles through the pain and difficulties of liver failure at Mott Children’s Hospital. (Photo credit: Pam McClain)

Brooklyn Rue, Staff Reporter

Many Mercy girls know sophomore Dani McClain for her memorable comments in class discussions and her reign as president of her freshman class. She was recognized by her classmates as a strong leader the moment she walked through the doors of Mercy High School. It is difficult to imagine such a powerful young woman in a weak and vulnerable position, such as lying in a hospital bed for nearly a month.

McClain has an immune deficiency that causes bacterial build-ups in her legs. These build-ups often have to be surgically removed and will be an issue for her entire life. She will periodically have surgeries and procedures to help reduce them. There are newer ways of dealing with the problem, like a cloth that lays on her leg which keeps the bacteria from congregating. Unfortunately, the cloth is uncomfortable and difficult to use. Surgery is sometimes the most effective course of action.

After having one of these routine surgeries in November 2014, McClain began to feel very sick and groggy. Each day for almost a week, she went home early because of stomach pains. Her pediatrician diagnosed it as the flu and she stayed home for a couple of days before returning to school. Soon after returning to school, McClain went to the emergency room because of a fever and severe stomach pains. Again, doctors said she simply had the flu.

McClain later woke up crying and screaming from the excruciating stomach pains and again returned to the ER.

“The pain was unbearable,” said McClain.

She underwent an ultrasound which showed her liver was enlarged. She underwent numerous tests which showed she had acute liver failure. Doctors said it would be worse before it got any better. McClain spent three weeks in a hospital bed. She was unable to walk, her eyes became yellow and her skin puffy, and she had no desire to eat because of the stomach pain. She does not remember most of it.

“I counted my hours by how often I got my pain medicine,” McClain said.

Eventually, McClain was transferred to Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor because the doctors thought she may need a liver transplant. Her liver slowly healed itself and she left the hospital a day before Christmas Eve. She was back at the hospital, though, from Jan. 1 until Jan. 6 because of another surgery to remove bacterial build-ups.

Even through her difficult experience, McClain remained positive due to her perseverance and the help of those around her. Senior Kendall Reid and counselors Mrs. Trish Brown and Mrs. Arpna Hessler visited McClain in the hospital to support her.

“Students and staff made me cards and I don’t think they understand how much I appreciated them,” McClain said. “I realized that my Mercy family will always be there for me.”

McClain does not reflect on her time in the hospital negatively. Her time there helped her to learn to get over obstacles and strengthen her faith in God.

“Through it all, I knew God was still there for me,” she said. “I am stronger now and can face anything. Now I have a story to tell.”