UGA student who had brain hemorrhage on spring break back with family, undergoing tests

A University of Georgia student is back with her family on U.S soil after a frightening medical emergency on a spring break trip in Mexico.

Liza Burke is a senior who is set to graduate in May. Her friends went to Cabo San Lucas for a final spring break trip.

On Friday, Burke’s friends said she complained of a headache that turned out to be much more serious. After she wouldn’t wake up, Burke was rushed to the hospital. Doctors diagnosed her with a condition that caused her brain to hemorrhage.

“She was diagnosed with this abnormality in her brain called arteriovenous malformation which she’s had since birth and nobody knew she had it,” family friend Jennifer Ritter previously told Channel 2 Action News.

Arteriovenous malformation happens when a group of blood vessels in the body form incorrectly, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Ritter said the doctors had to remove part of Burke’s skull to help with the bleeding.

But Burke’s family was desperate to get her back to the United States, which can be costly and more complicated to organize.

Friends and family members came together within days to raise more than $125,000 to get Burke a medical flight from Mexico to Jacksonville, where her mother lives.

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After delays on Monday, Burke and her mother arrived back in Florida early Tuesday morning. She’s being treated at the Mayo Clinic.

Channel 2′s Elizabeth Rawlins talked to Burke’s mother, Laura McKeithan, shortly after Burke arrived in Florida for Channel 2 Action News at 4 and 5 p.m. Tuesday. McKeithan said doctors in Mexico provided excellent care, but were eager to get her back to specialists in the United States.

“The doctors there were so caring and really wanted to get her back to the states because they felt that is where she was going to have the best care,” McKeithan said. “Somehow, my friends were able to make enough calls and use the power of mamas to get her back.”

McKeithan said her daughter has a long way to go, but she was able to squeeze her mom’s hand.

“(She is) nothing short of a miracle,” Liza Burke’s mother Laura McKeithen told Channel 2′s Elizabeth Rawlins. “We are told to take things one day at a time and not get our hopes too high, but to have plenty of hope.”

Ritter organized a GoFundMe page to help Burke’s family get her back to the U.S. Over $125,000 was raised within 24 hours.

After delays on Monday, Burke and her mother arrived back in Florida early Tuesday morning.

Burke’s mother told Rawlins they arrived to Jacksonville at 7 a.m. and by 8 a.m., doctors had taken Liza off sedation. The mother says after doing a CT scan on Liza, they removed the temporary pacemaker and currently Liza is breathing on her own, but still has the ventilator to keep her airway clear.

Liza’s mother said the doctor told them to expect some good days and some bad, but overall, she calls Tuesday a good day.

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