MINNEAPOLIS - Three-year-old Anikah Schmidt of Prior Lake wasn't crazy about going through the set of doors at Hennepin County Medical Center. But once she got into the Hyperbaric Chamber area, she was all smiles, reconnecting with nurses who cared for her, for months.
"She has a fighting spirit," Hyperbaric Medicine Director Sheryl Adkinson, M.D. said, smiling.
Anikah's mother, Vanessa Schmidt, credits the hyperbaric chamber with turning her daughter's life around, after she developed an uncommon, severe radiation injury. "Too few cells, too few blood vessels," Dr. Adkinson explained.
At 19 months old, Anikah was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She went through radiation treatment in Houston for six straight weeks and seemed fine afterwards. But four months later, she had a hard time balancing. Then she couldn't swallow. Soon she had difficult time breathing. That's when she began the first of 63, 110 minute treatments in the hyperbaric chamber.
"What it does over time is cause the growth of new capillaries in that irradiated tissue," Dr. Adkinson said.
"The hyperbaric oxygen, you know, helped everything to stop it in its tracks and started turning things around," Vanessa Schmidt said.
The nurses were beaming as Anikah walked around the new chamber by using a walker. She said hello and responded to some questions. It was clear; she had come a long way. "She overcame it all. She truly is a miracle. I will tell you, this little girl is my hero," Vanessa said, giving her daughter a squeeze.
Anikah will begin school this month and hopes to be eating on her own in the very near future.
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