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In the News

Neighbor helps girl survive the storm

By Tom Stafford
Staff Writer

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

SPRINGFIELD The Sunday, Sept. 14, storm that knocked the breath out of the area also threatened to knock the life out of 3-year-old Leah Miller.

She depends on a B-Pap machine to do the overnight breathing that her muscles weakened by Spinal Muscular Atrophy cannot.

To the relief of Leah's parents, Nikki and Scott Miller, neighbor Steve Moon dusted off a generator that got them through to Monday morning.

"Before we had Leah, the power going out wasn't a big deal," said Nikki Miller. "Now, your heart just sinks to your stomach."

At 9 months, Leah was diagnosed with Type I SMA, the most serious form of the inherited neuromuscular disease that makes it difficult to crawl, roll over, swallow, breathe and digest.

"Her mind is perfect," said Leah's mother. "Her body just doesn't assist."

They were told Leah probably would live about two years; her fourth birthday is Sept.. 29. The Millers almost lost her twice. The day after Thanksgiving 2005, "I had left the room for two minutes, and I came back in the room and she was blue," said Nikki Miller of xxxx xxxx Ave.

The following April, Leah stopped breathing again. She survived a two-day coma.

The Millers rely on four machines that monitor her blood oxygen level, clean out her windpipe and lungs and allow her to sleep.

The Springfield Rotary Club helped the Millers buy an inverter that allows them to charge the machinery with their van's battery.

The weekend's storm has the Millers considering asking for a generator of their own.

"It's not a want," Nikki Miller said. "It's a need."