Abbi's wild ride: Drug reaction helps save chid's life

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By Cindy Simpson

A Walnut Hill Elementary student is recovering from spinal meningitis, but ambulance mishaps didn’t help situation.
Eight-year-old Abbi Byrd of Fiske Heights on Thursday complained of a headache and had a fever.
By Friday, she was vomiting.
She was first diagnosed with walking pneumonia on Friday night at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and released.
However, on Saturday night, her mother, Amanda Beard, found her unresponsive and an ambulance was called.
The ambulance was delayed when a train blocked its way at the Fiske Heights railroad crossing and then the ambulance broke down on Interstate 40 as it was carrying the child back to Children’s Hospital.
“They had to wait for another ambulance to come and trade out ambulances,” Beard said. “I got here (to the hospital) and couldn’t find her; nobody had even contacted me.”
Beard said a reaction to an anti-nausea medication is what caused Abbi  to become unresponsive.
The child had taken the medication before without a problem.
However, the unexpected  reaction may have saved the girl’s life, doctors said.
It led to to the spinal tap that resulted in the meningitis diagnosois.
“They would have never found the meningitis,” Abbi’s mother said. “It was just a guardian angel.”
Beard said doctors told her it was good that they found the meningitis when they did because it would have quickly become deadly.
Because Abbi was on antibiotics prior to her diagnosis, doctors are unable to detect whether her meningitis was a bacterial or viral strain.
The bacterial strain is much more dangerous and can kill quickly if not treated.
Abbi appears to be on the road to recovery, although she isn’t expected to be home for a while.
“She’s up and moving around and talking,” Beard said. “We’ve at least got to be here 10 more days.”