After a trip to Africa in 2012, Janis Houston couldn't
shake the feeling that something was wrong. She made an appointment with her
doctor, who ruled out several tropical diseases.
The next day, Houston woke up feeling even worse, she
said. "I knew I had East African sleeping sickness."
She went to Abbott Northwestern Hospital’s Emergency
Department, where doctors confirmed what she thought and acted quickly. East
African sleeping sickness is a dangerous disease transmitted by the tsetse fly
and is rarely seen in the United States.
Houston’s condition quickly deteriorated, and she was moved to the Intensive
Care Unit (ICU).
During the next two months, ICU staff fought to keep Houston alive as her
organs and circulation shut down. Eventually, both legs and hands had to be
Now, after months in the hospital followed by intensive rehabilitation, Houston
is walking on prosthetic legs and will use a prosthetic hand.
"Our family feels so thankful that Abbott Northwestern has such incredible
doctors, dedicated nurses and all of the technology that was brought to bear on
my case. Without all three of those things, I would not have survived," she
In gratitude, Houston and her husband, Bruce Taher, along with their family,
will host their third annual gourmet Thanksgiving meal at the hospital for ICU
staff. The meal is catered by Forepaugh’s Restaurant in St. Paul, part of their
Houston and Taher also serve on Abbott Northwestern Hospital Foundation’s Critical Care Campaign committee to raise funds for Abbott
Northwestern’s Emergency Department and Neuro-ICU.
Support patients like Janis Houston who need critical care. Designate your gift to the "Emergency Dept./Neuro ICU – Critical Care Campaign” fund.
Janis Houston and Bruce Taher