Miracle student

Saturday, May 22, 2004

In 1998, a brain stem stroke left Amber Lackamp of rural Jackson in a coma. Doctors predicted she would soon die. When she didn't but was left paralyzed, able to communicate only by blinking her eyes, doctors told her parents she probably would die within a few years.

They didn't listen. Neither did she.

Her graduation last weekend from Southeast Missouri State University is only the latest reason doctors now refer to her as "their miracle."

The young Jackson woman's recovery from the stroke has been unrelentingly difficult. First she moved the little finger on her left hand. Eventually she uttered her first word -- "Mom."

The feeding tube that nourished here was not removed for more than six months. Each tiny step Lackamp has taken on her way back has required unfathomable strength and determination.

Lackamp was in her senior year at Southeast when the stroke occurred. Eventually she began taking classes on the Internet. This past semester, she finally returned to a classroom.

She can type again, though only left-handed. She can walk again, though with difficulty and the use of braces.

Now 28, Lackamp graduated with a bachelor of science degree in human environmental studies with an emphasis in child development. She wants to work with disabled children.

Here's a prediction: Those children will be very lucky.

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