Philly Police Dept dispatcher spreads encephalitis awareness as daughter battles disease in ICU

"She's very active," said Barbara Miller, describing her 14-year old daughter Amani. She’s a beautiful, curly hair, green eyed little girl with an angelic smile.

But, nearly a month ago everything changed.

 "Within two days, she was asleep. She was completely, like, her eyes were completely behind her head. To see her laying here like this it killed me," said Barbara.

It was about four weeks ago Barbara says when her little girl began having stomach pains, vomiting and other flu-like symptoms. She says a test for COVID came back negative.

A week later Barbara rushed her daughter to the emergency room with a fever of 103.1.

 "They didn't admit us right away. They basically said she was dehydrated," said Barbara.

Then days later, Barbara described her daughter’s condition, "She started like hallucinating, seeing things that weren't there and kind of yelling out in her sleep."

This time doctors at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children admitted Amani for a slew of tests and diagnosed her with encephalitis. It’s a disease causing inflammation of the brain.

 "They started treating her with different antibiotics and they gave her steroids. And after that it was just a matter of just when she started responding," said Barbara.

After nearly a month in ICU and nearly lifeless, this week Amani began to wake and speak her first words to her mom.

 "I love you. I love you," Barbara recalls. “Tears of joy obviously. Tears all over the place."

Barbara, a 911 dispatcher for the Philadelphia Police Department, says she never imagined being on the other end needing help in a crisis. She and her daughter still have a long road to recovery.

 "Pretty much the hardest thing I've ever been through in my life and I'm sure her too. She's still trying to figure out what's going on," said Barbara.

Rehab is next for Amani to try to walk, eat on her own and fully speak again. It could take six months to a year to fully recover.

Barbara has been out of work without pay for weeks and it will be much longer before she returns. Family and friends have started fundraisers to help out. They’re asking anyone who can to help out.

Anyone who wishes to help financially can do so either by donating funds through Cash App: $brighteyes817 or through a t-shirt fundraiser. Using the email, one can purchase an "Amani's Army" t-shirt.


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