Mom helps spread awareness about sepsis after her 10-year-old gets flesh-eating disease

'I just really felt like, even though this is this rare occurrence, it happened to us so how rare is it?'
Sepsis awareness
Posted at 5:29 PM, May 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-03 06:47:20-04

(WXYZ) — In most ways Kennedy Mayer is like any other 10-year-old girl. She loves watching dog videos and her own dog, Lola. She adores Taylor Swift, and avoids certain school subjects: "I hate math," she said.

Dr. Nandi talks about sepsis and details what you need to know

Dr. Nandi talks about sepsis and details what you need to know

But she didn’t get to spending her spring at Mott’s Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor because her life has been completely normal.

At the end of March, Kennedy’s mom, Meghan, tells me that the fourth grader from Oak Park got the flu, Influenza B to be specific.

She seemed to be getting better until Easter Sunday.

"Like this part of my face started to hurt," she recalled.

Kennedy also started to get the chills. That night, she developed a fever, and started to vomit.

"Actually that whole night she slept in bed with me, she kept taking my hand and putting it over my eye almost to like give it some pressure, because it was hurting so much. She finally fell asleep and we woke up the next morning and it was just a teeny bit bruised just right in the corner," said Meghan.

VIDEO: Hear Kennedy and Meghan talk about the health scare:

Hear from Kennedy and Meghan about the 10-year-old's health scare

Meghan and her husband, Thomas, took Kennedy to the pediatrician, by the time they got there the bruise had tripled — the pediatrician said to go to the emergency room.

"It just felt awful," said Kennedy. By the time they got to the ER, Kennedy started to also get a body rash.

Doctors told them she had necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh eating disease. Kennedy was in severe sepsis with multiple organs failing.

"We were just sitting there in the hospital and I’m like ‘I’m not strong enough for this!’" said Meghan. "I felt like I was saying goodbye to her for the last time."

Kennedy was wheeled into surgery with “Wonderland” by Taylor Swift playing.

More than 18 children die from sepsis every day in the United States.

But on April 1, through multiple surgeries, Kennedy's life was saved.

Dr. Kirsten Smith, an attending physician at Mott's, was part of the emergency team. She said if the parents had waited to take Kennedy to the doctor, things could have turned out differently.

"I don’t know that we’d be talking about her surviving," said Dr. Smith.

Over the course of the last couple weeks, brave Kennedy has been working on being able to stand and feel her feet again.

The good news: doctors have been able to save her eye. The unfortunate news is that Meghan has learned her little girl will lose her toes.

What began as the flu, will have a life-long impact.

Meghan has been documenting the journey on social media to spread awareness.

"I just really felt like, even though this is this rare occurrence, it happened to us so how rare is it?" said Meghan.

Dr. Smith said, "so it’s actually pretty common in kids — over probably 75 - 100,000 kids have severe sepsis every year."

Kennedy is a dog lover, a Taylor Swift fanatic, and now a survivor, who says she will use her story to help others.

"Can I ask why you wanted to tell your story and share with other people?" I asked Kennedy.

"I don’t want it to happen to anyone else, I don’t want them to go through this, I don’t want them to have to be scared. I don’t want that, I don’t want that for anybody else," she said.

VIDEO: Watch a clip from Meghan's Instagram when she was able to give Kennedy a hug

Watch a short clip from Meghan's Instagram

Meghan said her daughter feels like she's never going to be her old self again.

"I think something that we’ve really been trying to explain to her is you know what, you’re not because you’re going to be better," Meghan said.

If Kennedy’s story has touched your heart, her mom says donating blood helps patients like her. Our Swiftie also dreams of going to a Taylor Swift concert one day.

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