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In gratitude for a life saved

  • 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 amputated. 

    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 said.

    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 family-owned business. 

    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.

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    Janis Houston and Bruce Taher

    Janis Houston and Bruce Taher