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Girl Who Conquered Flesh-Eating Bacteria is WVU Medicine Gala’s ‘Miracle Child’

Photo Provided - Olivia Kiger-Camilo, 17, of Wheeling poses with her infectious disease doctor, Dr. Martin Weisse, while she was receiving treatment at WVU Medicine Children’s Hospital in Morgantown.

WHEELING – Olivia Kiger-Camilo, 17, of Wheeling will be this year’s Miracle Child during WVU Medicine Children’s Ohio Valley Gala.

She is the daughter of Rebecca Kiger and David Camilo of Wheeling.

Kiger-Camilo was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis, a rare and dangerous flesh-eating bacteria, in March. Her condition, which started in her foot, resulted in the need for surgeries to remove the infected portions. She also received skin grafts. She spent, in total, about a month at the hospital in Morgantown.

This year’s gala, set for 6 p.m. Saturday at Oglebay’s Glessner Auditorium, will help raise funds for the hospital’s transport team, said Kiger.

“She also almost died in March,” she said, adding her daughter was transported via medical helicopter to the hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit. “They saved her life. It’s been a very long journey. … She is really amazing.

“We are so thankful for the personalized and lifesaving care she received at WVU Medicine Children’s. They not only saved her life, but they affected the trajectory of the rest of her life. She’s interested in becoming a doctor now,” Kiger added.

Kiger-Camilo, who is a student at The Linsly School, said she would one day like to become a pediatrician. While in the hospital she said she bonded with her caregivers. Having her family there to support her also made her battle easier, she said.

“Aside from the physical pain, I had my amazing family with me the whole time. I really connected with the staff at the hospital. They became my second family,” she said.

Kiger-Camilo said the medical staff was there when she needed a friend, too. There were a lot of services such as music, games and movies to watch, too.
“They make the environment so kids can still be kids and be as normal as possible,” she said.

Kiger-Camilo said her skin grafts have healed up and she is now working on rebuilding the muscle and mobility she lost while in the hospital.

She said her father is a physical therapist and is helping her do just that.

“I just got back from a run,” she said. “I want to go to the Naval Academy, so I have to work on regaining my strength and work on running and pushups and pullups.”

Kiger-Camilo noted she “absolutely” plans to begin dancing again.

“Dance is my second home. Hopefully I’ll be back there. I’ll slowly start again in a couple months,” she said.

Kiger-Camilo is not concerned about getting the condition again as it is incredibly rare to begin with, she said.

“There are 2,000 cases every year. It was a perfect storm as to how I got it. I won’t get it again,” she said.

Dancers are known for pushing through pain and injuries to keep doing their art. She added that she and her fellow dancers need to take injuries and wounds seriously and clean them properly to help prevent potential infections and further injury.

Kiger-Camilo’s recovery has garnered national attention in recent weeks. Her story has been found in the New York Post, People and on Yahoo! That has amplified the message she has for others – for other children who may need extra medical care, they should not be afraid to travel to get it.

“Do not be afraid to go to Morgantown if something is seriously wrong. You will get excellent care. I felt supported through the whole journey. I felt really loved, which was an important part of this and healing,” she said.

The gala, titled “A Night of Hope,” on Saturday will offer gourmet dining, entertainment, dancing and live and silent auctions. For ticket information, visit ovchgala.com.

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