Community supports West Ouachita HS senior battling severe case of meningitis

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OUACHITA PARISH, LA (12/14/19)– Thousands in the community have been hoping and praying for a Christmas miracle. Those prayers are now being answered.
“I’ll tell you it’s been life-changing for us,” said, Don Plunk, Katie’s Uncle.

West Ouachita High School senior, Katie Nelson, was originally diagnosed with mono, but her symptoms got worse, She was rushed to the ER on December 8th.

“The severity of the situation just compounded and Katie’s condition just worsened very quickly from there,” said Plunk.

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Doctors then realized she had a severe case of meningitis. Nelson began having seizures, brain swelling, and a high fever. She was put on a ventilator and sent to a hospital in New Orleans.

“We definitely realize how much Katie means to everybody,” said Taylor Watkins, one of Katie’s Best Friends. “We came back to school after the day we found out she was sick and the whole school is covered in sticky notes that say #KatieStrong on them.”

Katie Nelson


Katie pulled through. On December 13th, Katie was taken off of the ventilator and had no trouble communicating with her eyes and hands.
On December 14th, she ate breakfast and even walked around her room.

“I’m gonna tell you we can give credit nowhere, but the almighty God,” said Plunk. “We asked that she would be able to come off the ventilator by the next day and God honored that. You know through the prayers from the community.”


The community support didn’t stop at prayers. Morgan Crowell Art & Huck Outdoors designed a shirt to help raise money for Katie’s medical expenses.
The shirts are maroon for meningitis awareness and say “Suns on” to represent Katie and her Nana’s love for the beach.

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“I know it’s going to mean a lot to Katie when she sees how many people bought the t-shirts and how much people do care about her and want her to get better,” said Watkins.


Katie is involved in sports medicine, competitive cheer, and even used to ride dirt bikes. Her friends say there aren’t many hurdles Katie can’t overcome…not even something as tough as this.

“She is one of the strongest people I know,” said Harley Rowe, one of Katie’s best friends. “She can do anything. Like if you’re having a bad day she’s just the person you go to cause she just makes you smile.”

The family said they are beyond thankful for all the support, cards, and prayers they have received. You can follow updates here.

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