16-year-old Zei Uwadia has defied all expectations, rising to her feet and walking while attached to the life support system that keeps her breathing.
In October 2017, Zei Uwadia’s lungs failed due to a mysterious condition that continues to elude diagnosis. She was a normal, quiet, bookish 16-year-old girl that traded North High School in Wichita for the pediatric unit of Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City and an Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) system.
But Uwadia has refused to lie still. The young warrior has spent the last 130 days in a tireless battle to strengthen her lungs and emerge from this tragic interruption to her life. She has already managed to eat tacos, visit the chapel, and now, pace the halls of the hospital itself.
It started with a bet: Uwadia was promised that if she could stand for five minutes on her own, the doctors would find a way to help her walk. She stood for seven. Inspired, the doctors created an ECMO rig specifically to allow her the mobility she craved. But for Uwadia, “it was one step closer to getting home.”