Health | Science

Rabies Is Supposed To Be A Death Sentence, But An Experimental Procedure Saved Her Life

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NBC

In 2004, Jenna was at her local church in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin when she found a bat hiding under the building.

A rabid bat.Joliet Patch

The animal turned out to be rabid, and it bit Jenna on her finger. At the time, her parents "never though of rabies," and just cleaned the wound with hydrogen peroxide. It took three weeks, until Jenna's symptoms became overwhelming, for them to realize what had happened.

When Jenna was admitted to the hospital she had a fever of 102 degrees, severe fatigue, double vision, nausea and a tingling sensations in her limb. As rabies worsens, patients suffer from hallucinations, deliria and even a fear of water.

Eventually, as rabies attacks the brain, the patients become paralyzed, suffer from heart attacks or suffocate, trapped in their own bodies. Jenna's doctor, Rodney Willoughby Jr., was willing to try anything to prevent this from happening to Jenna.

Dr. Willoughby and Giese.Princeton Alumni Weekly

His solution has since been named the Milwaukee Protocol, and Jenna was the first patient to test the daring procedure. When the treatment began, Willoughby said she "looked as if she might die within the day."

With no other choice, Willoughby "shut [her] brain down," and waited to see if his gamble paid off...

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