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NEW ORLEANS — Maddie Patrick is making strides in her recovery. Just a few months ago, she wasn’t sure she would be here.

“I remember thinking if I was going to die. I asked my mom if I was going to die, and she said I don’t know,” said Maddie.

For the past three years, Maddie has struggled with heroin addiction, and on December 17th, 2020, everything changed.

“We hadn’t heard from her for two weeks prior to that. She was living a drug life, you know, being homeless and bouncing around to wherever she could get that,” said Monica Patrick, Maddie’s mom.

Maddie’s family received a call from the people she was staying with, who said she was deathly ill. Monica rushed her to a local hospital in St. Francisville before she was transferred to Tulane University Medical Center.

Doctors found an infection in her heart, her blood was septic, she had a stroke and then, a brain aneurysm.

“The first thing I did, was I looked at her CT scan, and I immediately knew that she needed to go to the operating room. I knew that if we didn’t do the surgery immediately, she would likely die from it,” said Dr. Arthur Wang, neurosurgeon at Tulane University Medical Center.

When Dr. Wang examined Maddie in the intensive care unit, the likelihood of survival was grim.

“On her clinical exam, I thought she was brain dead. On my testing, she didn’t show any signs of life,” said Dr. Wang.

But Maddie’s family gave Dr. Wang the “okay” to operate, where he removed nearly half of her skull to take out the toxic blood from the aneurysm.

From there, the recovery began.

“It’s good. I already, I guess, graduated from speech therapy,” said Maddie.

Despite the physical hurdles Maddie still has to overcome, her heart is filled with gratitude.

“I’m happier than I’ve probably ever been. I feel thankful to be given a second chance,” said Maddie.

And her mom is grateful to have her daughter back.

“The worst thing in the world is not knowing where your child is, so even if she hadn’t made it out that surgery, at least I knew where she was. But I am just beyond blessed. It’s a miracle that she’s with me,” said Monica.

Maddie is six months sober and she’s still undergoing physical and occupational therapy to help her with movement in her hands and legs. Maddie says she’ll be staying with her family as she recovers, and plans to eventually enroll for online college courses.

You can follow Dr. Wang’s work on his Instagram: @arthurwang_neurosurgery.