• 11-year-old New Zealand girl says Harborview doctor saved her life

    By: Rob Munoz , KIRO 7 News Staff

    Updated:

    SEATTLE - A New Zealand girl -- who recently visited the Pacific Northwest on vacation with her family -- says a Harborview doctor who happened to be nearby saved her life. 

    Alyssa Ledbetter, 11, was swimming with her cousins at Luther Burbank park in Mercer Island when she said she began to feel uneasy. 

    “I went to my mom and just said, ‘I have a really bad headache and I’ve never experienced a headache that bad,” Alyssa told KIRO 7’s Rob Munoz.

    Alyssa was brought to the shore where she went in and out of seizures, but a nearby emergency doctor at Harborview Medical Center, who was picnicking with her husband, sprang into action. 

    “(Alyssa) was really pale and sweaty. She had very classic symptoms of sub hemorrhage,” Dr. Alisha Brown said. 

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    Alyssa was taken to Harborview where she was diagnosed with two ruptured brain arteries known as Arteriovenous Malformations. She has been in and out of the ICU for the past month -- and has to heal her brain for several months until she's back home for a very highly technical operation.

    Dave Ledbetter, Alyssa’s father, said the family has been able to raise more than $50,000 through a fundraising website to pay for an operation known as Gamma Knife Radiosurgery that doctors have determined is her best chance at recovery. 

    “It’s really seen us get through these hard times and it's buoyed us through these troubled waters,” Ledbetter said. 

    In the meantime, Alyssa and Brown have grown closer in her recovery and Alyssa says her family considers Brown her guardian angel. 

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