Omaha teenager survives deadly disease

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OMAHA, Neb (WOWT) - Just days before one of the biggest moments of her life, an Omaha teenager is talking about her story of survival.

She spent nearly a month on life support, as she was diagnosed with a rare, dangerous, and sometimes fatal disease.

“I was so disoriented that I couldn't really grasp what happened,” said Jordan Matukewicz, a senior at Marian High School.

In February, she noticed a rash when she woke up from a nap. She also felt weak and had trouble walking, so her parents took her to the Methodist Hospital emergency room.

Dr. Marcus Snow of Nebraska Medicine told WOWT 6 News that Jordan was immediately admitted to the intensive care unit, where doctors put in a breathing tube. They also put her on life support. Her organs -- including her kidneys and heart -- were starting to fail.

“I think Jordan was getting close to the point almost of no return,” said Snow.

A team of doctors diagnosed Jordan with meningococcal disease. It's a bacterial infection that tends to target teenagers, killing 10-15 percent of patients. It can turn deadly in just a matter of hours.

“We asked, ‘so how ill is she, like from 1 to 10?’ He said 'oh, she's like an 11 or 12,’” said Jordan’s mom, Cristina Matukewicz.

Jordan's mom prayed as her daughter spent three weeks in the ICU on life support. Doctors treated her with antibiotics. Now after months of recovery and physical therapy, Jordan is healthy and ready to embrace her future.

“All that I wanted to do is graduate high school and not get held back and I am so that was kind of just the most important thing,” said Jordan.

Jordan graduates from high school on Sunday and then she plans to take a few months off before starting college, where she plans to become a teacher.

Doctors tell WOWT the bacteria that causes this disease is naturally found in the nose and throat, but doctors still don’t know exactly what triggers the bacteria to become harmful to some teenagers. There is a preventative vaccine, though, and it comes in a series of two shots. Doctors recommend teens get both shots before they graduate from high school. Jordan did receive her first vaccination and was a few months away from getting her second shot when she got sick.