College Student on Life Support After Suffering Brain Bleed on Spring Break Trip in Mexico


It was spring break and Liza Burke, a University of Georgia student, was spending it in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

She was at breakfast with friends on Friday when she complained about a headache. Burke returned to her hotel room to sleep but when her friends later tried to wake her she would not stir.

Burke was rushed to the hospital where she was diagnosed with arteriovenous malformation, an arterial condition which caused her brain to hemorrhage. She was later put on life support, according to her GoFundMe page.

According to the Mayo Clinic, AVM is a tangle of blood vessels that irregularly connects arteries and veins, disrupting the flow of blood and oxygen.

It is not clear what causes AVM and it is seldom hereditary, according to the Mayo Clinic.

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But a friend of Burke’s said she has had it since birth.

“She was diagnosed with this abnormality in her brain called arteriovenous malformation which she’s had since birth and nobody knew she had it,” Jennifer Ritter told WSB-TV.

Burke’s family then faced the financial challenge of getting Burke on a medical flight to Jacksonville, Florida, where her mother lives.

In response, Ritter began a GoFundMe page and raised over $125,000 in less than a day. Burke arrived in Florida Tuesday morning.

“The doctors there were so caring and really wanted to get her back to the states because they felt that is where she was going to have the best care,” Laura McKeithan, Burke’s mother said, according to WSB-TV.

“Somehow, my friends were able to make enough calls and use the power of mamas to get her back.”

She is now receiving treatment at the Mayo Clinic.

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Burke is now off sedation, and after a CT scan, doctors removed her temporary pacemaker.

She can breathe on her own but still needs a ventilator to keep her airway clear, according to WSB-TV. She can also squeeze her mother’s hand.

“[She is] nothing short of a miracle,” McKeithan stated. “We are told to take things one day at a time and not get our hopes too high, but to have plenty of hope.”

Burke was set to graduate in May.

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Ole Braatelien is a social media coordinator for The Western Journal. He currently attends Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, where he is pursuing a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication.