Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Tuesday

September 10, 2013

Issy's condition improves: 'Nothing short of a miracle'

GRAND RAPIDS — Issy Stapleton spent four days "clinging to life."

But a recovery her father termed "nothing short of a miracle" finally cast some hope upon a tragic story that's unfolded over the past week.

"She’s doing amazing," Matt Stapleton told a Record-Eagle reporter on Monday. "These doctors and nurses are also referring it as a miracle. She's a fighter, a tough young lady ... It's a monumental improvement toward her recovery," he said.

The autistic Elberta girl, 14, suffered carbon monoxide poisoning on Sept. 3 after authorities said her mother, Kelli Stapleton, tried to kill her and commit suicide by burning two charcoal grills inside an enclosed van. Both were found unconscious and Issy lingered, unresponsive, in that state for days inside the critical care unit at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids.

Then Issy awoke.

Matt Stapleton said doctors removed Issy from a ventilator to see if she'd improve, and within 12 hours she went from a "coma-like" state to talking, walking, making requests and showing glimmers of her old personality.

Issy Stapleton is now out of the critical care unit and her father said he's optimistic she'll be released from the hospital "sooner rather than later."

But questions remain about her future health -- an MRI showed signs of brain damage -- and doctors still have to conduct tests. Questions also remain for Kelli Stapleton, 45, who faces an attempted murder charge, an accusation Matt Stapleton said he's still trying to understand.

"I haven't found any time to get focused on the details surrounding the case, because right now couldn't be more excited about where (Issy's) progress is," he said.

The last time Stapleton spoke with his wife was when she was transported to Munson Medical Center after she and Issy were found unconscious in the van off St. Pierre Road in Blaine Township. He spoke to her for "about 30 seconds against police wishes" because she refused treatment.

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