Samantha Kiger returns home

Samantha Kiger was only eight years old when she was diagnosed and hospitalized due to flu A, which then progressed to pneumonia in only a few days. After 112 days in the hospital, she was finally able to go home.
“On October 24 she was diagnosed with flu (A) at eight years old,” Samantha’s cousin Brandi Pettus said. “She was a healthy, active eight-year-old. And then a couple days later, her mother noticed that she was having problems breathing and she sent her back to the doctor. Then she realized she had developed pneumonia. Not only did she have pneumonia, she had MRSA in her lungs. She went into multi-organ failure. She ended up on life support from it. Her lungs failed, kidney failure and she ended up on ECMO.”
ECMO stands for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. According to Samantha’s GoFundMe page, it is also known as extracorporeal life support. ECMO is a process that assists with heart and lung functions. This helped her blood and blood gasses circulate throughout her body.
Her mother, Amy Kiger, explained that she was at different hospitals during her time recovering.
From Oct. 26 until Dec. 22, she was in the Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist – Brenner Children’s Hospital PICU. From Dec. 22 to Jan. 11, she was moved to the Intermediate Care facility at Brenner. Her final transition was to Atrium Health Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte for rehab from Jan. 11 until Feb. 13 when she was finally able to go home for the first time.
Along with her recovery and procedures, on Jan. 17, Samantha had to have emergency bronchoscopy.
“She was having trouble breathing and they had to they put a scope down her trach to see what was blocking it. They called it a crust, a hard chunk of mucus and blood was blocking her airway and she couldn’t breathe, so they had to take her into the emergency room and pull it out,” Amy Kiger said. “She had to have that done three times. It’s not normal.”
During those 112 days, she spent every holiday in the hospital, her mother said. Throughout her time in the hospital, she coined the nickname Super Sammy for her strength and resilience.
“She’s doing really good,” Amy Kiger said. “Just being able to be free to do whatever she wants, up in her bedroom playing with all her toys, holding her bunny rabbit, playing with her dog. We were thrilled. Where she needs to be is at home.”
Pettus explained that during this time there was a family group chat that was always keeping the family up to date on Samantha’s condition and how she was doing. Now that she is home, she heard that Samantha has most enjoyed being outside again.
While in the hospital, Samantha was able to keep up with her schoolwork in order to keep her on track in Mrs. Wise’s second grade class.
“She [Samantha] actually wanted to make sure that she doesn’t get held back, so she asked for her schoolwork while she was in the PICU. Her teacher actually came to the hospital and has been giving us work for her to work on,” Kiger said. “They have already decided that she will not be held back this year.”
When they found out that Samantha was going to be sent home at the beginning of February, the family began planning a surprise that will take place on Sat., Feb. 18 at 1 p.m.
Her family has organized a drive-by parade that will start at Piney Grove Elementary School and go all the way to her house. Samantha has no idea about the parade.
The parade will consist of the Kernersville Jeep Night Club, Team Patients, Kernersville Police Department and Kernersville Fire Rescue Department. They plan to have over 60 vehicles in the parade to celebrate Samantha.
“All of the family got together and started organizing it,” Pettus said. “We just want to show the love because she is a warrior and a fighter.”
Despite being home, Samantha is still having to use a tracheostomy tube, sometimes referred to as trach, in order to breath fully. She is currently on a ventilator at night but is hooked up to the lowest oxygen setting.
Kiger is hopeful that Samantha will not have to use the trach much longer and that at her next appointment checkup, they will give her a timeframe for when she is able to get the trach taken out.
Although she was a healthy eight-year-old before being diagnosed with the flu, Samantha’s doctors were not able to explain why the sudden progression of her symptoms got so bad, so fast. She was the only one in her family to be diagnosed with the flu.
The family would like to make a big shoutout to the Kernersville community, Piney Grove Elementary School, Kernersville Middle School, local churches and friends including: Sarah Soloman, Jennifer Cassell, Mattie Neese, and Christine Defendorf.
They all want to thank each person who prayed, shared her story or was just thinking about the family during this time.
To learn more about Samantha or donate to her GoFundMe page, visit

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