Gardasil Victim Graduates Despite Odds

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May 20, 2011

Gabi Swank graduated from South High School last night, after doctors told her she wouldn't live this long.

"Two years ago they told me I wouldn't be here right now, so it's a big accomplishment," said Swank just moments after she walked across the stage at Koch Arena with her seizure dog Robinson Thursday night.

"She did it. She did it, " said Mom Shannon Schrag. "I didn't know if she would, but she did."

Like millions of teenagers, Gabi got the Gardasil vaccine at 15. It's the drug that is given to protect against the virus that causes most cervical cancers. Within weeks Gabi started having side effects, like seizures, muscle aches and dizziness. After months of testing, a Wichita neurologist diagnosed Gabi with cerebral vasculatis, a terminal disease. He blames it on the Gardasil.

"For awhile awhile there I was doing ok with the seizures, but then I started getting hiccups and twitching, which isn't always the best," said Gabi.

Gabi has been in and out of the hospital for the last two years, but continued to home school. This once bouncy, energetic cheerleader did what many told her she couldn't.

"Dr. Lindholm said I'm not going to let you die, and I've been holding on to that, and he hasn't," said Gabi.

Gabi plans to go to college and become either a meteorologist or an animal biologist.

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