What she thought was a bad flu, turned into meningococcal meningitis for 19-year-old Katie Dobrow. Doctors amputated both her arms and legs to stop the virus from spreading, but four months and 20 surgeries later, she is on the way to recovery, which she believes is in the hands of a higher power. Vikki Vargas reports from Orange for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on June 27, 2013.
A 19-year-old Orange County woman who lost both of her arms and legs after contracting meningococcal meningitis is now on the road to recovery thanks to her fighting spirit.
Doctors said Katie Dobrow -- once given just a week to live -- has made tremendous progress, which she attributed to a higher power.
“God has a plan for my life. He saved my life. He wants me to live,” Dobrow said from her fifth-floor hospital room at UC Irvine Medical Center Thursday.
Dobrow’s body is working overtime – at one point, burning 4,000 calories a day, just so her wounds could heal.
What Dobrow thought was a bad flu last February, turned out to be meningococcal meningitis. The bacteria spread so quickly the only way to stop it was to amputate her arms and legs.
Her illness prompted Orange County schools to warn students and parents traveling to Tijuana about an outbreak of the potentionally deadly bacterial infection.
“The pain was hard to deal with at first,” Dobrow said.
Four months and 20 surgeries later, Dobrow can now think about her future.
“I don’t like relying on people. I want to walk again,” Dobrow said.
Her parents called their daughter a feisty, spunky, girly girl who would take on an enemy when needed.
“Every other care I have falls away when I come here to be with her, to pray for her,” said Don Dobrow, Katie’s father.
Katie spent her 19th birthday in intensive care. Doctors initially told her parents she might not live beyond a week.
“We had a giant cake. It was fun. My nurses were here and friends and all my friends sang,” Dobrow said.
Katie still does not know who she contracted the illness. It’s spread through saliva or spit, and is not airborne.
“I want people to know kids can be vaccinated for this. There is a vaccination to prevent this,” said Kathi Dobrow, Katie’s mother.
Her parents are raising money for her care, which is very expensive. To contribute, go to the donation website at GiveForward.