While many of us were getting ready for springtime graduations with our sons and daughters a Granger couple was continuing to fulfill a "Promise to Amanda."
Amanda Abbiehl was just 18-years-old when she died four years ago on July 17, 2010, shortly after graduating from Penn High School. She was happily making plans to head off to college but soon got very sick.
She went into St. Joseph Regional Center with Strep throat. She never came home.
Her parents, Cindy and Brian Abbiehl weren't aware Amanda's respiration was not being monitored
Even though it's been four years, Cindy says it doesn't feel like it, "It's just like yesterday when it goes through my mind."
For those of you unfamiliar with Amanda's tragedy, she was an otherwise healthy teen who went into the hospital because of a bad strep infection. Cindy explains how she was being treated, "She was put on a PCA pump which is a pain pump so she could give herself her own pain medicine and we believe if she had monitors on her for her CO2 she would be here today."
She was also given the pain killer Dilaudid to help with her throat pain.
When the Abbiehl's went home for the night, they did so because Amanda seemed to be improving. The Dilaudid she was given for pain seemed to be working.
Brian says Amanda was finally feeling relief, "It was the first time since she was in the hospital that she was able to really have a personality. She had gotten on her laptop and sent some communications to some friends.and things so when we walked out of the hospital that night we were actually pretty upbeat."
Thinking she might come home the next day, Cindy and Brian never dreamed that when they kissed their only daughter goodbye their real nightmare would begin with an early morning phone call.
Cindy says, "The nurse kind of fumbled on the phone and basically said, 'your daughter is in code blue right now.'"
All anniversaries are difficult but the Abbiehl's say this year more so because many of Amanda's friends graduated from college in the spring, adding "the nevers are hard, you know we'll never know what her major would have been, so those are hard things to think about and go through."
The Abbiehl's believe there is a purpose for their loss and two years ago started a foundation called Promise to Amanda which pushes for higher standards for patients in hospitals.
Cindy says she is finally ready to take on the foundation full time and will push to get respiration monitoring like Capnolgraphy on every patient nationwide who is given drugs that slow breathing..
She wants lawmakers to help, "My goal is to get it to washington so that we can get it passed so it's a mandatory thing." Brian says so many people are unaware that their loved ones on drugs that slow respiration are not being monitored, "We're trying to get the word out about what respiratory depression is and what it can cause."
They never were able to discuss adding, what's called Capnography, with officials at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center.
However, they met with Memorial Hospital in South Bend and every patient on every floor who is on a PCA pump or drugs that slow respiration are now monitored. Knowing that might save another life is part of their promise to Amanda.
And that impressed Brian, "probably the biggest piece of news we've had is that Memorial did role out the CO2 monitoring. Our daughters situation was definitely something they took into consideration when they were evaluating whether or not they needed to do this or not." Adding Memorial did so even though Amanda did not die in their hospital.
And they have no doubt their beautiful daughter is providing them the strength they need to mandate change. Cindy says, "Oh yeah, she's pushing us the whole way through. it's a promise that we made and if I can get it to washington and get it passed I've fulfilled my promise."
A promise to Amanda, who is no longer with them here on earth but is always in their hearts and warming their souls.
The Abbiehl's told me that they have learned through their foundation that many hospitals are now adding Capnography to protect their patients.
There is also a 2nd annual Promise to Amanda Foundation fundraising dinner this Saturday that promises a lot of fun by also advancing the Abbhiehl's lifesaving goals.
It's this Saturday, July 19th at the Mishawaka F-O-P Lodge at 1825 East 12th Street from 6pm until 11pm.
There will be a full polish dinner, a silent auction which includes many items including a TV, laptop, jewelry, gift cards and coach handbags just to name a few.
Tickets are 25 dollars for adults and 12 dollars for kids 12 and under. There will also be speakers and a DJ and all the proceeds go to advance the Promise to Amanda Foundation.
To get tickets, call Cindy at 574-250-6220 or send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
To learn more about the foundation, visit www.promisetoamanda.org