Emma Burkey, 19, suffered four strokes and had to undergo five surgeries and needed breathing and feeding tubes after having adverse effects to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine
A Las Vegas woman who endured four strokes and three brain surgeries after having a severe reaction to the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is learning to walk again.
Emma Burkey, 19, reached a ‘new goal’ on Friday when she was finally able to walk down stairs a year after being told she’d never be able to.
Burkey was rushed to a Las Vegas hospital after she suffered a seizure following the one-dose COVID-19 shot on April 1, 2021. She believes the vaccine caused the onset of a rare medical condition, which led to three brain surgeries, two additional surgeries, four strokes, and the need for a breathing and feeding tube.
‘Now I’m able to walk with canes which I thought never happened. I’m setting goals and when I reach them I’m setting new goals,’ she told News Now 8 on Tuesday. She no longer needs help from machines for breathing or eating.
Her strokes left her with limited movement, but Burkey already has regained upper body strength and managed to hold a baby doll – a big step for her as her dream is to work with children, News Now 8 reported. Before she became ill, she was a volunteer at a church nursery.
She has spent five hours a day during the last 10 months undergoing physical therapy to relearn fine motor skills and how to walk again. At one point, the teen had to be placed in a medically induced coma, but could not move, speak, or blink her eyes when she awoke, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
Burkey’s reaction to the vaccine is rare and the CDC still advises patients to get vaccinated. For those who received a J&J vaccine, the CDC recommends getting a booster shot from Pfizer or Moderna.
After 10 months, Burkey (left) is now able to walk up and down four to six steps. After suffering a rare reaction to the vaccine, she was left with limited movement in her body, especially her left side and was told she would not be able to walk again
Equipped with a leg brace and either a walker or a cane, Burkey has been undergoing five hours of physical therapy a day to relearn how to walk again
Back in April, she suffered a seizure and her parents rushed her to the hospital. Doctors found a blood clot in her brain and said she had low platelet levels. She was diagnosed with thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), which at the time was only linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine. The condition, which causes blood to clot in the brain, has affected only 57 patients out of the 18million who have received the J&J vaccine, as of early February.
‘At the very beginning, when I was at the hospital, I couldn’t move literally anything,’ Burkey told the Las Vegas Review-Journal earlier this month. ‘And my parents didn’t know that I was even there, that I wasn’t a vegetable, until I stuck my tongue out.’
Now, Burkey can eat a sandwich, but cannot type on her own and is learning how to walk up and down stairs. She can now walk up four to six steps by herself. She uses a cane or a walker, and a leg brace, and can walk about 300 steps in durations of 10 steps at a time.
‘It’s not the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen, but I can do it. So, I’d rather be able to do it without those things,’ she told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
She still has only limited movement in her hands, with her right hand having 10 to 15 per cent of the normal range and her left at one to two per cent.
Burkey suffered from a blood clot in her brain after receiving the J&J vaccine, a condition that has only affected 57 out of the 18million patients who have received the company’s vaccine
Burkey (pictured front left in 2017) volunteered at a children’s nursey at her church prior to the incident
Three months after her brain surgeries, she was still unable to walk and had limited movement on her left side.
When Burkey, who was flown to California for her treatment at a hospital, returned to Nevada, she went to a family friend’s home, where she had easy access to a shower. Her parent’s home is not wheelchair accessible.
A GoFundMe was set up to help cover Burkey’s medical expenses, which are around $2.5 to $3million, according to the Las Vegas Review. The fundraiser has since raised almost $72,000 out of its $100,000 goal.
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