Kali Hardig and Mom Appear on CNN

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BENTON, AR (CNN) – A Benton girl continues to make the national spotlight after surviving parasitic meningitis.

Kali Hardig was up early this morning after her first night back at home following her release Wednesday from Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

She and mom Traci Hardig appeared on CNN’s “New Day” program.

The fact that she is only the third known person to recover from a rare infection caused by brain-eating amoebas is making her story one of continued interest.

Here’s the full transcript of the interview:

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: And here to share their amazing story of courage and beating the odds exclusively, Kali Hardig and her mother Traci, joining me now. It is so wonderful. It’s such an understatement to even say it’s wonderful to see you both. It’s great to see your smiling face this morning, Kali. 


BOLDUAN: How are you feeling? 

K. HARDIG:  Good. 

BOLDUAN: Yes do you feel a hundred percent?  What’s it like right now? 

K. HARDIG: Yes. It’s awesome to be home. 

BOLDUAN: And you just got out of the hospital. 

K. HARDIG: And it’s good to be home. 

BOLDUAN: Of course it feels good to be home. 

K. HARDIG: Yesterday. 

BOLDUAN: What was the first thing you wanted to do when you got out of the hospital after being there for so long? 

K. HARDIG:  I wanted to play with my dog Chloe. 

BOLDUAN: And give her a big hug right? 

K. HARDIG: Yes. 

BOLDUAN: Have you been able to see any of your friends? 

K. HARDIG: Yes, some — some of them. 

BOLDUAN: And what are they saying? I’m sure they’re so excited to see you. 

K. HARDIG: They’re like I’m glad you’re doing better. 

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. And you’re starting school. 

K. HARDIG: And they’re like psyched I’m getting better. 

BOLDUAN: And you’re starting school? 

K. HARDIG: I start school on Monday. 

BOLDUAN: Part-time on Monday. Are you looking forward to going back? 

K. HARDIG: Yes — kind of. 

BOLDUAN: A perfect response for any 12-year-old heading back to school. What are you going to tell your friends when you get back to class? 

K. HARDIG: That I missed them I guess. 

BOLDUAN: Yes. That makes sense. That makes absolute sense. 

So Traci, you must be just on cloud nine being able to have your daughter home. 

TRACI HARDIG, KALI’S MOTHER: Yes, it’s a wonderful feeling to have her back home. 

BOLDUAN: Take me back through this terrifying ordeal that you’ve gone through that no one — I mean that’s why you have number three on your shirt. She is really the only — the third person that’s known to survive this brain eating amoeba. Take me back to that. Your daughter gets sick. She goes into the hospital and she is only getting worse. And then you get this diagnosis and you learn the odds that she is up against.
What was going through your mind? 

T. HARDIG: Well, at first I was determined that I wasn’t going to lose her, that it just couldn’t be happening and because I could talk to her, still. I mean she was still awake when we took her in.  So it was just hard for me to accept that that was what was going to happen in a few days. So we decided that we were just going to tell her she was very sick and she had to fight like mom does because mom has been battling cancer and then we were going to ask everybody to pray for her and we were going to make it through it. 

So we just hung in there and prayed and, you know, it just — I’m so thankful and blessed the road we’re down instead of the one we could have went down. So it’s just a miracle. 

BOLDUAN: It is a miracle. Was there any moment when you were losing hope, when you knew the odds that she was up against? 

T. HARDIG: Well, I mean, there were several moments that I would get down because it was like riding a rollercoaster. I mean, one moment things would be going good and then the next moment something else could happen that you’re just wondering if she was going to be able to overcome it or not. And there was a moment where she was just hooked up to every machine possible that you could imagine. I mean there was hardly any room for you in the room. 

And I mean, that was one of my lowest points is thinking, you know, if you just let her come back from this, I’ll do whatever I got to do to take care of her. I just want to be able to take her home. So that was one of the hardest moments. 

BOLDUAN: And we should give a very big shout out to the Arkansas Children’s Hospital for their hard work and everything they’ve done for you and your family. And they used a new experimental drug to help Kali through this. When did you get a sense that Kali had turned that corner? When did you feel comfortable even believing that she was going to make it through? 

T. HARDIG: It was a long haul. We were in ICU for 22 days. So the day before we left on ICU they actually took her off the vent and I think that was the first time I could what you call actually take a breath and let myself breathe to think that Kali was possibly going to overcome this. But it was just until then, you know, I just prayed and hoped and just kept my faith that she would make it. But that’s the actual moment I think that I really believed and the doctors would actually tell us that she was going to be the third survivor. 

BOLDUAN: Yes. Kali, do you remember any — you were very sick obviously as your mom is saying. Do you remember anything during the time that you were in the hospital? 

K. HARDIG: Not really. 

BOLDUAN: Not really. Was it — were you scared? 

K. HARDIG: Yes. 

BOLDUAN: Do you realize now how special you are that you made it through and what a special girl you are? 

K. HARDIG: Yes. Yes. 

BOLDUAN: What do you think of all this attention? 

K. HARDIG: I kind of like it. 

BOLDUAN: Well, we kind of like giving it to you, I must say. Traci, do you want parents when they hear your story, do you want parents to learn anything from this experience? This doesn’t happen to many people and it is so clearly fatal when it does. Are you trying to send a message to anyone?  

T. HARDIG: Yes. The message that we would like to send is just awareness that this does exist, because before Kali got this, I didn’t even know it existed either.

And the main thing is trust your instincts as a parent. I mean if you believe that there’s something more wrong with your daughter or your son than a — you know simple virus or stomach flu, stay in there. Hang in there. Talk to the doctor. Be positive and, you know, and reassure them that this is not a normal illness with my child. 

And they’ll listen, because, I mean, Children’s Hospital was wonderful with listening when I told them that this just wasn’t a normal case of a stomach bug. There was something wrong with Kali. 

BOLDUAN: You knew your child better than any doctor would. That’s for sure Traci. So, Kali, I know you’re sleepy, you poor thing.  You know that so many people have been pulling for you and praying for you and following your story and your recovery. What do you want to say to everyone who’s been watching this and hoping you make it through? 

K. HARDIG: Thank you for praying for me, everybody. 

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Well, thank you both so much Kali it’s such a pleasure to meet you. Talk about beating the odds. Traci, you are counting your blessings today and you will be for a long, long time to come. Thanks so much for coming on and sharing your story.  

T. HARDIG: Thank you. 

K. HARDIG: Thank you. 

BOLDUAN: All right. Good luck at school, sweetie. 

K. HARDIG: Ok. Thank you.

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