Kali Hardig responds to commands, under sedation

    Traci and KATV's Katherina Yancy

    (KATV) The Benton girl who is in critical condition with a rare brain eating amoeba is now awake and doctors are lowering her level of sedation. Twelve year old Kali Hardig contracted the parasitic meningitis more than 2-weeks ago.

    According to the CDC, it is 99-percent fatal and most victims die within a week. But Kali's mom, Traci Hardig tells Channel Seven she is confident her daughter will be one of the few survivors.

    Traci Hardig is fighting her own battle with cancer. "Fight like a girl" is a key phrase Kali tells her mom, now Kali is also fighting like a girl.

    Officials with the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) say Kali contracted the parasite while swimming at a popular water park in Little Rock. The owners of the park voluntarily shut it down for the season.

    Arkansas Children's Hospital has been Kali Hardig and her family's home for more than 2 weeks. She has been sedated, but even through that, she is starting to recognize voices and move on command. Traci says, "If you ask her to squeeze your hand, give you thumbs up, or if you ask her to move her toes, she can wiggle her toes. Today, when they asked her if she was in pain, she shook her head no."

    Doctors have tested Kali's breathing, kidney's and body temperature by turning down the machines. She started physical therapy this week and the next test is muscle strength.

    Doctors are also lowering her sedation, allowing her to be more alert. Traci says, "It is almost like you can breathe again. That feeling that maybe it is going to be possible and the doctors keep saying they're optimistic."

    Traci says it is hard to focus on her own battle with stage 4 breast cancer right now, "You just want to put your health on the back burner and take care of her, but you can't. I know when she comes home that I have to take care of her, so I have to take care of myself so I can do that."

    Traci says these small steps in the right direction are motivation that Kali will be the third person to survive this rare form of meningitis. "So those little things have been just a blessing and we are so excited."

    Last week, Kali's doctor said there was no trace of the amoebas in her spinal fluid.

    The Prayers for Kali Le Ann Facebook page is getting support from all over the world and her classmates in Saline County have been raising money to pay for her medical bills. "Her little school mates that decided to do the lemonade stand and the bracelets. It was just overwhelming. I mean they raised over $8,000 for Kali so it was just unbelievable. I just couldn't believe it. It is just a great feeling to know your whole home town is behind you and Kali so it is a great feeling."

    Donations to medical bills can be made at any Arvest Bank branch. The account is "Kali Le Ann Hardig.'

    Officials with the ADH say it is the second case of the rare illness from the same water park in the past three years. The other victim, a 7 year old boy died in 2010.

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