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Las Vegas woman resettling and recovering back home after rare J&J vaccine reaction


By Lauren Martinez

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    LAS VEGAS (KVVU) — A local woman is readjusting back home this weekend after spending three months in the hospital following serious, but rare, side effects from her COVID-19 vaccination.

The Las Vegas community continues to follow 18-year-old Emma Burkey’s journey after she was one of the first to experience negative side effects from the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

On March 20, Burkey received the vaccine. Her family’s spokesperson, Bret Johnson, said 10 days after that she started to experience serious medical complications. A few days afterward she was airlifted to Loma Linda Hospital in Southern California.

On Burkey’s GoFundMe page, it said she was put into induced coma, ventilated and had at least three brain surgeries to repair blood clots.

Johnson said she’s recovered remarkably and she’s worked really hard to get this far.

“When she went there, things were very scary, and her situation was very grave, so the fact that she can leave the hospital, communicate, be in good spirits is a wonderful thing,” Johnson said.

Burkey was released from the hospital on Wednesday, July 14 and returned to Las Vegas with her parents. Right now the family is in the middle of selling their home. Burkey’s father described their current living situation as “camping with air conditioning.”

“Their home is not equipped really for someone in Emma’s condition. It’s not wheelchair accessible, the bedrooms and the main bathroom are on the second floor. So the home is just not going to work for them so they’re going to have sell their home and find something else,” Johnson said.

Burkey was able to find a place for rehabilitation and doctors that can transition her care to the valley.

Johnson said Emma’s parents split 12-hour shifts to care for her.

“The whole family has been completely changed by this, and it’s definitely a defining moment for all of them,” Johnson said.

The biggest priority is to get her to walk on her own.

“Everything cognitively is there for her out of this. She can speak, her sense of humor, all of that is there. Where the impact was is physically,” Johnson said.

Emma’s mother described the care she received by nurses and personal care assistants as “amazing.”

The family are grateful for all the support they’ve received, according to Johnson.

“There’s just been a remarkable outpouring of love and concern and prayers and giving on the GoFundMe page that has really breathed life into them and encouragement to know that so many people care,” Johnson said.

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