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March 3, 2014

PH star survives harrowing battle with staph infection

Pendleton Heights' Sean McDermott survives harrowing battle with life-threatening infection

PENDLETON — Pregame warm-ups never used to bring tears to Kim McDermott's eyes.

She's been around basketball all her life, playing for a state championship at Highland in 1987 and ending her career at Indiana State. And she currently runs the basketball program at the Anderson Sports Center.

As part of the Darner family, she's witnessed her share of outstanding moments on the hardwood. But few things move her more strongly these days than the sight of her eldest son, Sean, taking the court with his Pendleton Heights teammates.

"To see him back out there, every time I go to a game and watch him warm up, it makes me want to cry," McDermott said. "And I realize, if he wasn't so lucky, he might not be here."

* * *

On Nov. 20, Sean McDermott was diagnosed with a life-threatening infection, one his parents were told has just a 20 percent survival rate. The illness is so rare doctors at Riley Hospital for Children said this could be the only case his pediatrician ever sees.

And the Pendleton Heights junior likely never will know how he contracted it.

It could have happened when he bit the inside of his mouth. Or cut his nose. Or suffered a paper cut.

What is known is that McDermott caught a severe staph infection that left him unable to stand up from his couch and caused his mother to rush him to the emergency room.

McDermott had made another trip to the ER three days prior after feeling pain in his knees and excess fatigue that hadn't subsided 24 hours after a three-hour Saturday practice. The prognosis was dehydration, and he was sent home to rest.

By the time McDermott returned to the hospital, the pain had spread first to his left wrist and then to his hip.

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