Tuesday, May 29, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Hannah Smith is a bubbly, outspoken 16-year-old with a bright future ahead. She loves her family and friends and has a strong faith. But if there's one thing she's most passionate about, it's definitely dancing.
"Even when I'm sleeping, I'm dancing," Hannah said. "When I wake up in the morning, I'm dancing, in the shower, I'm dancing ... it's like dancing has taken over my body. There's nothing I can do without dancing."
Smith was living out a typical junior year juggling school, work and dance, but in December 2011, tragedy struck when she realized she couldn't breathe.
"My legs just kind of gave out. I was walking to go get an X-ray; they got a wheelchair for me. I didn't have the energy," she said.
To this day, doctors still don't know what caused Hannah's severe asthma attack. It was originally diagnosed as bronchitis, but when she lost her ability to walk and breathe on her own, they decided to put her through heart and lung bypass, inducing her into a medical coma for a week.
"As a father you're always supposed to protect your children and wife, and I felt totally helpless," said Hannah's father, Hardwick Smith. "I could not do anything other than continue to pray and just to hold her, and it was worst feeling I had in my entire life."
Hannah's mother, Loretta, said she didn't know if she had the time to think about what she was feeling.
"My whole thought was I need to get her well," she said. "It was upsetting because she was in a position where I couldn't do anything for her and the reality of that was overwhelming. It was overwhelming to think you have this child here you have taken care of all of her life and now she's at a point where you can't do anything to help her."
Hannah doesn't remember much. She says she was shocked to hear the date once she woke up and overwhelmed with the recovery process ahead of her.
"My hands were closed together, my legs were weak, and I couldn't even sit up by myself. I was like a newborn baby, not able to hold myself up," she said.
It was her love for dancing that gave Hannah the recovery doctors never expected. They told her she would be out for months, but just a few weeks later, she was back out on the dance floor.
"I knew that if I couldn't walk again, I couldn't dance again. I knew that my legs had so much training and my body had so much training that I was able to quickly go back," Hannah said.
She will head to college in a year and then she plans to start a dance company in Augusta for underprivileged children.
It's a dream she knows was almost taken away from her. But thanks to the hospital, she has a second chance and wants others to know with your support, there is hope.
"I never would of thought that we would need the services. It was very comforting to know the service they provide. Don't support because you think you may need it. Support because there are others that need it," Hannah said.