Teen battling terminal condition receives second chance, walks across stage for graduation

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Wednesday, June 6, 2018
News 12 at 11

BAMBERG COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- With a confident smile under her blue cap 16-year-old Shantell Pooser is set to take the stage at Denmark-Olar High School.

"This is what every parent looks forward to when it comes to their children in school and, you know, doctors said we'd never get this opportunity."

Her mother, Deanna Miller, knows the highs and lows its taken to get here.

Shantell has Down's syndrome and a terminal condition that's left 80 percent of the airways in her throat blocked.

"Her airway collapses at the back of her airway, so at any moment she can pass out on us and suffocate. So I've been having to battle and watch her day after day, night after night, waking up to a blue baby not being able to breathe and not knowing what to do with her.”

The girl everyone knows as “Princess” was supposed to be here celebrating this graduation two years ago -- but instead was inside a Cincinnati hospital receiving emergency surgery.

The Bamberg County School System heard her story and stepped in with a cap ... a gown ... and a time to walk across the stage with this year's class.

"When the 8th-grade graduation class of 2018 realized that she was graduating with them, I mean the gym went into a total roar. The kids were just excited. Everybody knows her and everybody loves her."

Even with all her health problems Shantell still gets the crowd going.
As uncertain as her daughter's future is -- Deanna says she wants her daughter to inspire others to keep fighting.

"Never, ever be afraid to be their own voice. Be their voice before you are your own voice."

If any of this sounds familiar, that’s because Deanna started the ‘Saving Shannie Foundation’ a few years ago to help raise money for her daughter.

Since then, she’s had several surgeries to try and help clear her throat without much luck.

The family will fly back to Ohio in July to get dates for Shantell’s next surgery, which should be in September. If there’s no change in her condition by then, they’ll fly to Boston next January to get her looked at.