Katie Gutierrez, 19 of Eunice, is battling to fully wake up after having a stroke the night before having surgery in early August. As she continues her fight, her family and friends pour their love and support on her and won’t lose hope on Katie’s recovery.
Katie suffers from a form of cancer called craniopharyngioma. Her last brain surgery on Aug. 9 in Albuquerque caused a stroke in her brain stem, which left her in a coma. For the past two months Katie has been out of her coma but is still in a sleep-state.
“Right now time is not on our side,” said Amy Gutierrez, Katie’s mother. “Every minute she is in there she is getting a little bit weaker and sicker. She has lost 37 pounds in two months — it all comes from her not moving. When she had the stroke there in that area of the brain it affects the sensory system to be able to wake up, to be able to open your eyes.”
Katie was diagnosed with craniopharyngioma, a brain tumor derived from pituitary gland embryonic tissue, on Sept. 10, 2009 when she was 11 years old and had her first brain surgery. Depending on if you talk to in the family, Katie has had 11 to 12 surgeries. She is completely blind in her right eye and only has partial vision in her left eye.
Amy said Katie is currently recovering from an ear infection and a bladder infection and also has one collapsed lung and the other is partially collapsed.
“It seems like everything we do is one step forward and two steps back,” Amy said. “We’re trying a new medication that is supposed to help wake her up but it’s not really doing what we anticipated. But the doctors have said it’s going to take time before we know anything.”
Katie has limited mobility and has not opened her eyes since her surgery in August, but Amy said she responds to her family and friends during times she feels well.
“She will (squeeze) her eyes when her daddy asks and pucker her lips to give him a kiss but it’s not always (that she does this),” Amy said. “When she is feeling better she will smile. Someone was making a joke saying we need to bring some pictures up here of (professional wrestler and actor) John Cena without a shirt on. She smiled real big — John Cena is her favorite.”
Katie’s father, Kevin, recently was able to send a special guest to visit with Katie. Governor Susana Martinez was attending a Eunice High School football game and met Kevin who told her, “Katie would love to meet you.”
“It was just a sweet, enduring and very heartfelt visit,” Amy said. “She (Gov. Martinez) was kind and loving with Katie. It was definitely a highlight for me. When the governor talked to her she said, ‘I want you to call me Susana.’ And she said, ‘Can you give me a sign or let me know somehow that you understand me?’ At that time Katie squeezed both of her eyes real tight and squeezed (Gov. Martinez’s) hand. At that moment we knew that she was with us. She had been quiet for days we hadn’t been able to get her to do anything. That was an emotional moment and we all cried.”
Amy said if the medication doctors recently gave Katie to help her wake up does not work they plan to try another medication that may trigger Katie out of her sleeping-state.
“There are people who have woke up from long-term comas and so that (medication) seems promising,” Amy said. “We just started the other (medication) a few days ago so were hoping something will happen, trigger and Katie will wake up.”
Katie’s family and friends continue to show their support by hosting fundraisers for her family and sending their prayers and good thoughts her way.
“I can’t say thank you enough to those friends of ours and Katie’s that have shown us so much love and support,” Amy said. We’re fighting for her until she can come back and fight for herself.”
To learn more about Katie’s story click here.