Young athlete suffers stroke; hundreds push for recovery
An athletic 18 year-old is fighting for her life after complications from a staph infection. Family members of Bailee Kent, a graduate of Winter Haven High School, say it started with a fast-moving illness. "She came down with a sudden and unexpected staph infection," said Robert Chilton, Kent's cousin. "It quickly traveled through her blood; the antibiotics they gave her couldn't keep pace." It was only a week ago when Kent went into the hospital with a high fever. Chilton said the infection caused a growth on one of her heart valves. Before doctors could perform surgery, a piece of the growth broke off, migrated to her brain and caused a massive stroke."She needs heart surgery as soon as possible. The problem is the swelling in her brain makes it too dangerous right now," Chilton said. "What's most concerning is that another piece could come off at any moment." Her family is having a hard time comprehending how the fiery red-head got so sick - so soon. Kent is currently a freshmen on the girl's soccer team at Webber International University southeast of Lakeland. That's where she plays defense. "Bailee is nothing - if not a fighter," Chiltson said. "There are quite a few young ladies with bruises to show and to prove her tenacity." She's now at Tampa General Hospital. She recognizes others and can answer by nodding or using sign language. Her family isn't sure where the staph infection came from but they do know it did not start at Tampa General but before. According to information from The Mayo Clinic, staph is commonly found on the skin and in the nose - even in healthy people. But infections from it can turn deadly if the bacteria invade the bloodstream, joints, bones lungs or heart. Athletes commonly are exposed to staph because of close contact in lockerooms, including shared athletic equipment. Kent's friends and family are updating a Facebook page called "TeamBK6" that's dedicated to her and her recovery. A crowd of more than 1,400 people representing at least 30 states continues to grow. "She knows what's going and that gives us hope and she knows about all the love and all the prayers that have been coming in and that gives us hope, too," Chilton said. "the most amazing thing is the number of people she doesn't know who have been touched by this story. Who've been touched by this experience and are really rooting for her. "Sometimes it takes something like this to remind everybody how important community is and how much we need each other."