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Miracle Kid Thrives After Invasive Strep, Kidney Failure, Transplant

Parents recognize benefits of having Golisano Children’s Hospital in Rochester

Friday, May 20, 2005

Clutching their comatose daughter’s hands, Linda and Ted Snacki prayed for a miracle. Days before, Nicole Snacki, 5, was healthy. Suddenly, she was dying.

Today, however, after multiple brushes with death and a lifesaving kidney transplant, the West Irondequoit girl is on the mend. Her parents say that Nikki – who they describe as “funny, witty, and vibrant” – is a testament to modern medicine and the power of prayer. She is one of five Miracle Kids who will be honored by the hospital during its Miracle Weekend celebration June 3-4.

In December 2003, Nikki visited her local emergency department three times and was diagnosed with the flu. Believing her illness was more serious, her parents continued to push for further answers. Eventually, chest X-rays showed that the young girl had pneumonia. “They immediately transferred Nikki to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Golisano Children’s Hospital,” Linda Snacki recalls. “It was really serious.”

Doctors at Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong ran tests that showed Nikki was much sicker than she appeared. She was diagnosed with invasive strep, which led to a rare, life-threatening blood disorder called hemolytic uremic syndrome.

“She was in the PICU for three months, and she was on the brink of death almost every day,” Linda Snacki says. “They put her in an induced coma for several months to help her breathe, and I promised her before she fell asleep that I wouldn’t leave her side. For three months, I never went outside to take a breath of air. We just prayed. We never gave up hope.”

During her PICU stay, Nikki was cared for by a variety of pediatric teams. Experts from pediatric infectious disease were called in when she was diagnosed with invasive strep; the pediatric nephrology staff rushed to her aid when hemolytic uremic syndrome was detected; and the pediatric neurosurgery team placed a temporary shunt to drain fluid when she suffered a double stroke. In addition, Nikki experienced a collapsed lung that required the expertise of pediatric pulmonology. During her recovery she needed months of physical rehabilitation.

More than three months after being admitted to the PICU, Nikki slowly was getting better, but her recovery was far from complete. The hemolytic uremic syndrome severely damaged her kidneys, rendering them virtually useless. From April to October 2004, three forms of dialysis sustained Nikki, including an in-home variety that was managed by her parents. She received a great deal of support from her older sister, Kristi.

Eventually, Nikki was healthy enough for surgeons to begin contemplating a kidney transplant. Last October, Nikki received a kidney from her aunt, Mary Petromallo, of Brighton. Thanks in part to a host of anti-rejection medicines Nikki takes each day, the transplanted kidney is faring well. “We can never thank my sister for what she did,” Linda Snacki says. “At that time, we didn’t know what the future held for Nikki. Now, her future is just as bright as that of any 6-year-old child.”

Today, the Snackis are adjusting to a more normal life, and share their gratitude regarding Golisano Children’s Hospital with everyone who will listen. “Never in a million years did we imagine something like this happening to us,” Ted Snacki says. “Until Nikki got sick, we didn’t realize the importance of having a children’s hospital in our hometown. We now know how very fortunate and blessed we are.”

Miracle Weekend celebration

Miracle Weekend is always one of the most exciting times of the year for Golisano Children’s Hospital. It includes two major events.

The Golisano Children’s Hospital Telethon will be broadcast live from the hospital on 10NBC June 3 and June 4. In addition, Miracle Weekend always includes the Stroll for Strong Kids, to be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 4, at Genesee Valley Park. Children’s activities and registration will begin at 9 a.m. When finished with their “Stroll,” walkers will be treated to a free lunch. There will be music by Gary the Happy Pirate, and many fun activities for the kids.

Participants are asked to raise money through sponsorship pledges from family members, friends and co-workers. Prizes will be awarded to the top fund-raisers. The event is expected to draw 2,000 and raise $200,000. Pre-registration is required by Thursday, May 26. To register for the Stroll for Strong Kids, or learn more about any Miracle Weekend event, call 585-273-5948 or visit

In addition to honoring children such as Nicole, Miracle Weekend allows the hospital to raise funds that provide needed equipment for the children it serves, and items that make their stay a little easier.

Money raised will be used by Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong to buy equipment, such as preemie blood-pressure cuffs, and supplies, such as IV pole wagons, videos and games, and sleeper chairs so parents have a comfortable place to rest when they stay with their children.

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