Teen singer: 'I thought I was going to die'

Doctors have hard time diagnosing condition of Dara Niemi, 14


A young, local singing sensation, Dara Niemi, and her family feared the worst when she was rushed to the emergency room over the Christmas holiday. 

When she first got sick, her mom and dad just though it was the flu, since it was going around among the family, but something strange happened to Dara when she tried to stand up.

"From the waist down, I couldn’t move," said Niemi, a 14-year-old singer/songwriter. "I was very scared. I was nervous. I didn’t know what was happening.”

After getting her to the emergency room, tests were run.

Dara was eventually transferred to the ICU at the Children’s Hospital, where she was looked at by several neurologists. However, they could not narrow down a diagnosis. 

At one point, they even consulted doctors at John Hopkins University. They finally determined she had transverse myelitis, a swelling of the spine that causes paralysis.

"We got very scared at that point," said Derrick Niemi, Dara’s dad.

The fear grew.

While she was in ICU, Dara’s condition worsened. She became paralyzed from the neck down.

The paralysis and pain was so bad, Dara said she turned to her faith for help.

"I knew it was in God’s hands," Dara said. “I thought I was going to die at one point. I was in too much pain. I was like, 'I want to go now.'”

"She felt comfortable that if she had to be taken (by God), she felt OK with that, and that's very tough," Derrick said.

Her family friends and church continued to pray, and late in the fourth day in the ICU, things started to turn. 

Dara started to get feeling back in her arms and legs and was finally able to return home and return to school and her music.

"I’m just thankful every day I can live," Dara said.

She can also continue to live her dream of playing and writing music.

"I am so thankful that I can walk and still play my music," Dara said.

She has four other band members who were scared for her and now thrilled to see her back.

"It was just so exciting to see her walk and play," said Allison Loggins, a band member.

Dara, who has already recorded one album, will be performing with her band on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 23, at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo.

They will be on stage at the Coors Cold River Saloon from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.


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