(WGHP) — Samantha Davis was special.
“She was the kid who always sought out the kid in her class who seemed like they were new, and she made them feel welcomed,” Sam’s mom Rebecca Davis said.
Sam managed to live a lot in her 17 short years.
“I called her the Energizer Bunny,” Rebecca said. “She had a lot of energy, and she just wanted to conquer the world.”
Known as Sam to family and friends, the Moore County teenager developed epilepsy at age 16 after being hit in the eye with a softball. It caused her otherwise healthy and strong body to have recurring seizures with no warning or clues.
Sending Sam off to school or sports was terrifying for her parents.
“I wanted to be with her all the time. I had to talk to everybody because I felt like they all needed to know,” Rebecca said. “The school did put in a plan so that all the teachers knew, but it just seemed like it (a seizure episode) could happen at any time, and people needed to know more. There just wasn’t enough information.
On Sept. 22, 2018, during what was supposed to be her final cross-country event of the season, Sam collapsed while running a 5K. She died one month shy of her 18th birthday.
“They call it Sudden Unexpected Death Due to Epilepsy,” Rebecca said. “They say it was a perfect storm where her body was depleted, and then she had a seizure, and her heart stopped, and they could never get her heart started”
Toney Kincaid, who’s from Davidson County and founded the Epilepsy Association of North Carolina 14 years ago, never met Sam but was moved to action by her story. He is one of the more than 125,500 people in North Carolina living with a seizure disorder.
“I said ‘Lord, we gotta do something to stop this senseless death through epilepsy,'” Kincaid said.
With the Davis’ blessing, he and Amber Echerd, EANC vice president and mom of an epileptic son, worked with state lawmakers to create “the Samantha Rose Davis Act.”
House Bill 172 would require schools to create seizure action plans and train staff on life-saving first aid.
“We want them to know what seizures are, what type of seizures they’re having and what steps to take,” Echerd said. “Those are the three important things.”
The bill could make all the difference for the 15,500 school-aged children in North Carolina living with uncontrolled seizures.
“Let’s save children. Let’s not let this happen again,” Rebecca said. “I think that Sam would want that. She had this big heart, and she wanted to help the world.”
What the Epilspesy Association of NC says you should do if you see someone having a seizure:
- Stay Calm
- Move harmful objects away
- Note the time the seizure begins
- Stay with them. If they don’t collapse but seem blank or confused, gently guide them away from danger. Speak quietly and calmly
- Cushion their head if they’ve collapsed to the ground
- Do NOT hold them down
- Do NOT put anything in their mouth
- Roll them to their side and keep objects, food, vomit or saliva from blocking their airway
- Check the time again. If convulsive (shaking) seizure doesn’t stop within five minutes, call 911.
- After the seizure stops, put them in a recovery position.
- Gently check mouth to see that nothing is blocking their airway such as food or false teeth. If breathing sounds labored, call 911
- Stay with them until fully recovered.
- If injured, or they have another seizure episode, call 911.