In their laboratories at OMRF, Esmon and Taylor discovered a method of controlling the body’s blood-clotting cascade. Eli Lilly and Company built on this research to create Xigris, which works by helping to normalize the body’s clotting system and calm inflammation.
In Meagan’s case, says Taylor, “It was a miracle of timing. They got Xigris to her at the right time, and it worked precisely the way we want it to.” Yet that result would not become evident for some time.
In the interim, Meagan lay in a coma induced by medication. The sedation was necessary to counter the severe discomfort of the intubation.
As the ventilator breathed for Meagan and IVs delivered sustenance, fluids and medication to her motionless frame, her loved ones took turns by her bedside. “I just cried and cried,” recalls Meagan’s friend Carrie Fralish. “There are no words for how awful I felt seeing my friend in there and not knowing if I was ever going to get to talk to her again.”
Fourteen days after she first entered the hospital, Meagan awoke. She remembers seeing a nurse. And trying to say one word: “Mom.” And then everything went black again.
Her next memory is a room full of friends and family. Some cried. Everyone smiled. They knew, at long last, that Meagan was going to make it.
But the path back was not smooth. Sepsis had taken a heavy toll. As Meagan had slumbered in a coma, her muscles had atrophied so much that she was too weak to even crawl into bed on her own.
“I’d break into tears every time the physical therapist came, because I couldn’t get my body to work the way I wanted it to,” she remembers. “I just wanted to know when I’d be normal again.”
Still, unlike so many sepsis survivors, who often lose organ function and limbs, Meagan emerged intact from her battle with the illness. In the weeks and months that followed, she endured session after session of grueling physical therapy. She returned to college. And today, almost three years after sepsis nearly took her life, it’s like it was never there.
“I know that if it wasn’t for Dr. Taylor and Dr. Esmon, I might not be here,” she says. “Xigris gave me the chance to survive. What I do with it from now on is up to me.”
Today, Meagan McLain is 24 years old. As of May, she’s a college graduate. And she’s very much alive.