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Fargo mother comatose after illness

Sami Rudolph-Zebley

FARGO -- Samantha "Sami" Rudolph-Zebley, a Fargo mother of two and day care provider, is comatose and fighting for her life at Fargo's Innovis Health.

Rudolph-Zebley has been hospitalized, mostly in intensive care, since November after having a flu-like illness in October.

The 30-year-old has since suffered acute respiratory distress syndrome, pneumonia and encephalopathy.

Rudolph-Zebley has brain damage and is in a coma, said her mother, Jeanene Zebley. Her kidneys have shut down, and her liver and lungs are damaged, too, Zebley said. She breathes with a ventilator.

"The only major organ that hasn't been affected is her heart," Zebley said. "It's just crazy."

Zebley said in mid-October that both she and her daughter had what they thought was H1N1 flu. Zebley shook it, but Rudolph-Zebley, who ran a day care center out of her home, continued to have health problems and was eventually admitted to Innovis with breathing problems.

A few hours later, she was on a ventilator, and then put into an induced coma.

In mid-December, it looked like things were turning around. Rudolph-Zebley was transferred to Triumph Hospital in south Fargo for long-term care. But within days, a reaction to a drug caused her temperature to hit 107 degrees and her blood pressure to plummet. The combination likely caused further damage to her brain and body.

Zebley said doctors have told her the brain damage is irreversible.

"I know it's not good, and I'm just a dumb old mom, and I think she's going to make it," said Zebley, who adds her daughter responds to her voice and some commands.

Rudolph-Zebley has two children in West Fargo schools: Chandler, 10, who attends Aurora Elementary, and David, 12, who attends Cheney Middle School. Zebley said they are cared for by another relative.

Mark Adamson, a fifth-grade teacher at Aurora, said a bingo benefit with games by Games Galore has been organized with proceeds going to Rudolph-Zebley's recovery fund. There is a $5-per-child charge to play on the games at the benefit.

The benefit is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Jan. 20 at Cheney Middle School, 825 17th Ave. E.

Zebley, who maintains a CaringBridge Web site chronicling her daughter's struggle, said she has no idea how much the medical care has cost.

Donations can be sent to Samantha Rudolph-Zebley Benefit Fund, First International Bank and Trust, 1350 13th Ave. E., West Fargo, ND 58078.

Zebley said a pancake feed benefit is also planned Jan. 30 at Faith Lutheran Church in West Fargo.