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After Mexico Medical Emergency, UGA Senior Returns to the U.S

Liza Burke UGA Mexico

Liza Burke UGA Mexico

A student from the University of Georgia had to be flown back to the United States from Mexico after he had a brain hemorrhage during spring break.

The medical journey home for UGA senior Liza Burke was funded by more than $130,000 received by family and friends via a GoFundMe page set up on 12 March. Burke was brought to her mother’s home in Jacksonville, Florida.

“Somehow, my friends were able to make enough calls and use the power of moms to bring her back,” Burke’s mother, Laura McKeithen, told.

After undergoing emergency surgery in Mexico, McKeithen claimed Burke showed encouraging signs, including gripping her hand when she requested.

Liza Burke

“We are told to take things one day at a time and not get our hopes too high, but to have plenty of hope,” McKeithen told.

GoFundMe claims that the Asheville, North Carolina, native was on a girls’ trip to Cabo San Lucas when she developed a headache on Friday morning. The GoFundMe claimed that she went back to her room to relax and that her friends later found her there but were unable to awaken her.

Burke’s friends called a doctor and she was rushed to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) that caused her brain to hemorrhage, according to the fundraiser’s organizer, Jennifer Ritter. The hemorrhage left Burke unresponsive, Ritter said.

Brain AVMs are not well understood, although the Mayo Clinic describes them as a complex network of veins and arteries. AVMs are more common in men than in women, and while they can develop at any time, they are most common at birth.

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According to the Mayo Clinic, AVMs are rarely diagnosed until a patient undergoes a brain scan for another reason, or after the condition has already resulted in bleeding.

Burke was born with the illness, which Ritter said: “nobody knew she had.” The total amount raised was well beyond the initial fundraising goal of $40,000.

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