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South Aiken graduate bounces back after a grave illness

By DeDe Biles
For the Aiken Standard
dbiles@aikenstandard.com

Maggie Bosley is back at Wofford College, in Spartanburg, following a harrowing experience. She is looking forward to graduating later this spring and going to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.
“I feel like I'm almost my normal self,” said the former South Aiken High School student in a recent telephone interview. “I'm just glad to be alive.”

Earlier this year, Bosley was gravely ill, suffering from a disorder that many people have never heard of: Hemolytic-uremic syndrome. The condition usually occurs when an infection in the digestive system produces toxic substances that destroy red blood cells, causing kidney damage.

Bosley became sick in January after she journeyed to South America through Wofford's interim program that allows students to concentrate on a single study project for a month. She visited Argentina's capital and largest city, Buenos Aires, and then she went to the region known as Patagonia, where she was looking forward to seeing glaciers and penguins.

“It was my first time flying and my first time out of the country,” Bosley said.

Soon after arriving in Patagonia, Bosley developed diarrhea and started vomiting. She also had a throbbing pain in her abdomen.
Because of her discomfort, Bosley ended up in a hospital.

“The doctors thought I had appendicitis, and they thought it was acute, so they decided they needed to do emergency surgery,” Bosley said. “My appendix turned out to be fine, but they found a burst ovarian cyst and removed it. They thought that was the cause of my problems.”

But Bosley's health didn't improve. She developed a fever and continued to suffer from diarrhea. Then she started vomiting again.
Eventually, Bosley wound up on a jet heading back to the United States. It was her 22nd birthday, Jan. 28, and she planned to go to Charlotte, N.C. But on the leg of the trip between Buenos Aires and Miami, she was so ill that the aircraft's crew became concerned.

“When we got to Miami, medics were waiting for me with a wheelchair,” Bosley said.

“Then they called an ambulance, and I was taken to a small community-type of hospital. When I got there, they took a urine sample, and at that point, my urine was black. They told me they could tell that I was in complete renal failure. My kidneys had shut down, and my liver function was starting to decrease. One of the doctors there, a hematologist, pegged me as having hemolytic-uremic syndrome, which turned out to be my diagnosis.”

The medical staff at the small hospital decided to send Bosley to University of Miami Hospital, which was better equipped to deal with her problems.

While at the larger facility, “I spent about 10 days in the intensive care unit,” Bosley said. “They told my dad when I first got there that they didn't think I would make it. All they could really do was provide me with supportive care, and either I was going to get better or I wasn't.”

Bosley got better, but her recovery wasn't quick.
“I was so weak I had to use a walker,” she said.

After being discharged, Bosley traveled to Aiken and spent time with her family. Earlier this month, she returned to Wofford. She has enough credits to graduate, so she is auditing a couple of classes for the rest of her final semester as a senior. The easy schedule allows Bosley to sleep more when she is feeling tired.

“The power of prayer is really awesome, and luckily my body responded to the treatments,” said Bosley, who played soccer for the Wofford women's team and was named to the All-Southern Conference squad last fall. “I also had the support of a lot of people. They sent me cards and packages, and they raised money for my medical expenses. I'm thankful for where I am, and I'm glad it's over.”

Dede Biles is a general assignment reporter for the Aiken Standard.