Woman loses legs to rare disorder, but not her spirit - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Woman loses legs to rare disorder, but not her spirit

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To this day, White isn't sure why it happened to her. To this day, White isn't sure why it happened to her.
Vivian says that desire and support of her family gave her strength to move quickly into therapy. Vivian says that desire and support of her family gave her strength to move quickly into therapy.
When she looks back, black hands and feet are among the few things that stand out in her mind. When she looks back, black hands and feet are among the few things that stand out in her mind.
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PATTERSON, MO (KFVS) -

One day a Patterson, Missouri woman is healthy and active, and the next day she's near death with doctors working together to frantically remove her hands and feet.

This scenario happened to Vivian White just a few months ago. It's a real life story of trials and inspiration.

To this day, White isn't sure why it happened to her. One night she cooked dinner for her boyfriend in Patterson, Mo. And the next day she got a fever that turned into a rare disorder that robbed her of her legs, but not her spirit.

When she looks back, black hands and feet are among the few things that stand out in her mind from that day back in February when everything changed.

"I don't remember hardly anything when I got to the hospital except for my hands and feet were so cold," said White.

Just hours before, Vivian was fine.  She says she remembers the sound of the helicopter that took her to Saint Francis Medical Center, but not how she was loaded onto the chopper.

Her boyfriend and son were told to expect the worst.

Doctors explained, somehow that fever lead to a rare disorder known as Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC) that causes blood to clot. The reason why may always remain a mystery.

"Why me? Why so quick? Why did my blood start clotting?" said White.

Doctors wasted no time. As one doctor amputated Vivian's legs, another removed her fingers. It was their only chance at saving her before clotting spread to her organs. At one point they feared she'd lose her face as well.

"I wanted to home," said White. "I wanted to go play with my dogs."

Vivian says that desire and support of her family gave her strength to move quickly into therapy.

"I'm like emotionally and physically exhausted but that's part of the therapy," said White as she recalls nurses teaching her how to function again. "Get going. They're getting you right back on your feet right now."

Vivian is now standing tall on prosthetic limbs. In fact, she was walking on them just three days after she got them. They were specially made for her by a man from Poplar Bluff.

She surprised doctors, nurses, and other patients with her quick progress.

Her family isn't surprised.

"That's just her that's been her forever," said her son Justin White. "She's the strongest person I know."

"She's everything to me even now," said her boyfriend Bill Brooks. "She just insists on taking care of everything. She's amazing. Somehow I just knew if anybody would make it, she would."

Now Vivian wears a pin giving to her by a Vietnam veteran who jumped out of helicopters into combat. It's something that reminds her of her own helicopter ride and fight to keep all the things she's cherished.

"Smell the roses you know," said White. "Don't ever forget to say you love somebody."

Her progress in just seven months is stunning. Saint Francis Medical Center gave her an award for inspiring others.

She'll soon get another pair of legs.

She says it's her dream to one day walk in the creek by her home in Patterson again. "I'll do it," said White. "I know I will."

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