Be the Hope NOW: Ke'Mora McMiller died twice, now she wants to save others

Ke'Mora McMiller survived a rare and deadly virus. (Riley Hospital for Children / McMiller family)
Published:
Updated:

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — ​Ke'Mora McMiller died — twice. At least that's the way her mom, Sabrina, remembers it. A stomach bug almost killed her when she was 11.

Ke'Mora had been sick for five days with vomiting, stomach pain, nausea and fatigue. A doctor's visit concluded it was a viral infection and she soon felt better. As Ke'Mora planned to go back to school, the unimaginable happened.

"I just heard a loud gasp, and I turned around and her eyes just jet open and she just...fell over," Sabrina said.

Ke'Mora McMiller recovering at Riley Hospital for Children. (McMiller Family)

She thought Ke'Mora was having a seizure as they drove home from church. She pulled over in a neighborhood near 30th Street and Guion Road in Indianapolis. Sabrina desperately tried to wake her daughter and then began screaming for help.

"Just save her! Just save her!" Sabrina begged. Strangers came rushing over and found Ke'Mora had no pulse.

"I just screamed and prayed. That's all I could do," Sabrina said.

People performed CPR until the ambulance arrived and rushed Ke'Mora to Riley Hospital for Children. They were able to get a heartbeat and then Ke'Mora flat-lined.

"God, save her," Sabrina prayed.

The next decision Riley doctors made likely saved Ke'Mora's life. They hooked her up to an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine, or ECMO.

"That machine was her heart and her lungs," Sabrina said. The machine pumps the patients blood outside the body, giving it oxygen and removing carbon dioxide, allowing the heart and lungs to rest. It was working, but doctors warned Sabrina the battle was far from over.

Ke'Mora's heartbeat had returned, but, they shared with Sabrina that there were potential complications.

"She might wake up, she might not. And...she might wake up... disabled," Sabrina said.

Ke'Mora's heart had stopped twice for long periods of time.

“Just wake up.”

"Just wake up," Sabrina prayed. And she did.

"I didn't know what happened," Ke'Mora said. She was scared and couldn't communicate.

"My mouth was moving, just nothing was coming out," Ke'Mora said. "So all I could do really was cry."

Slowly but surely Ke'Mora began to gain strength and speak to her mom and dad.

"I can't remember what I said, but I told them something and I was like, 'I said something!' And I started going crazy!" Ke'Mora said.

Progress was slow and Ke'Mora stayed at Riley Hospital for Children for 30 days.

The official diagnosis from Riley doctors was myocarditis. Experts says it's caused by a viral infection, the start of Ke'Mora's stomach bug. A severe case can lead to heart failure, and sudden death.

The Riley staff made sure Ke'Mora still had fun after her survival. Between physical therapy sessions, she learned to make slime...her favorite activity.

KeMora McMiller making slime. (Riley Hospital for Children)

"I'm grateful though, that they could help me get back to me," Ke'Mora said.

Ke'Mora is now a Riley Champion whose dream is to one day become a doctor so she can give back.

If you would like to give to the Riley Children's Foundation you can click here.