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Coaches and players witness, help junior forward recover from nearly fatal bout with bacterial meningtis.

The memories aren't cloudy. They're just not there.

Not from the point to which she slipped to the floor of her West Lafayette apartment on a Tuesday afternoon in late November.

To Drey Mingo, it was a dark sleep with a couple of dazed moments of consciousness, the start of a journey for her and her team.

It's got a happy ending now, with the Atlanta, Georgia native returning to the Purdue women's basketball lineup to be the team's third leading scorer and top rebounder after a bout of bacterial meningitis.

But the hearing aids in her ears are a constant reminder of where she was on November 23rd-even though others must inform her of what was going on.

"I was so confused and I was kinda irate because I had a really bad infection by them," was what the Purdue junior women's basketball player was told of her behavior in a St. Elizabeth's Central Hospital room.   "I had to be restrained by six people in a hospital bed."

"I didn't know where I was or why I was there, I didn't know what the hospital bed was."

The meningitis hit Mingo quickly and took her from the floor to hospital in under 48 hours and eventually out of consciousness. 

Yet through the madness, there is a moment that is clear through the haze. It came during a short wake up, when Mingo look up and saw her mother, Jennifer, as well as another women standing next to her.

No, it wasn't a nurse.

"I'm remember Coach V beign there and saying 'Together We Attack'," said Mingo. "I remember passing out after that."

"Coach V" refers to Sharon Versyp, Purdue's womens basketball coach who had brought Mingo the program as a transfer from Maryland nearly two years prior.

"It's like your own child," said Versyp of her players. "Your responsible for these young women."

That was the reason the coach was at her side quickly after receiving the news, keeping virgil as Mingo went through a critical stage in battling Bacterial Meningitis. Doctors gave the forward a 50-50 chance at survival, not knowing what damage could await should Mingo survive.

She didn't even leave to tell her team what was going on, choosing a speakerphone to deliver the news.

"We're all scared, we need to pray," said Versyp to her players, who were in Indianapolis to take a flight to a tournament in Cancun, Mexico the next morning. "This is more important than anything that we possibly could do."

After sharing more general info, Versyp gave an order.

"We need to be here with her," said the coach, who agreed with officials to cancel the trip and bring the Boilermakers team back to Indianapolis.

They arrived early at St. Elizabeth's, as did her mother Jennifer from Atlanta, Georgia, and immediately went to the hospital to be with Mingo.

"We just wanted her to be alive," said teammate Antionette Howard, who grew up with Mingo in Georgia. "It's like my own sister at home, knowing that she's going through these things, its something I can't explain."

Neither could Jennifer Mingo, who arrived later that night after making an emergency trip from Atlanta and offered to relieve Versyp and the team at bedside. The offer was refused.

"She said 'I'm not going anywhere,'" remembers Jennifer Mingo. "It was just like a family, there were right there, really supportive with prayers.

"Just a ton of love."

That would have to continue over the next few weeks, as Mingo carried with her an antibiotic "lunchbox" and IV to keep her body recovering. She had trouble hearing anything at all her weeks, even after she returned to the bench to watch Purdue's game against Maryland at Mackey Arena on December 2nd.

As she began to return to the court, message had to be written down on pieces of paper as Mingo and her teammates learned sign language to be able to communicate.

"I had to rely on reading lips," said Mingo, who must use hearing aids. "So that was kind of a struggle for a while too."

That along with the fact that Mingo physically took a hit from the ordeal, losing 15 pounds during the week long ordeal. But each of the challenges the forward found a way to meet, returning to the Purdue lineup in a win over Auburn in Indianapolis on December 18th.

Over the next two months, in an unexpected turn of events, a majority of Mingo's hearing returned in her right ear, making it easier for her not only to hear in real life but also on the court. Due to excessive noise during games and the fact that they slip out due to sweat, Mingo cannot wear her hearing aids on the court.

Still Mingo managed to return to the lineup and average 11.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game in helping the Boilermakers to a 20-11 record plus a likely bid to either the NCAA Tournament or NIT.

While the comeback is a credit to medicine, its the support of her teammates that helped Mingo not only get through her time in the hospital, but also in returning to normal life.

"Just to have that support system was pretty awesome, I can't say that a lot of people have it as good as I do here," said Mingo. "Just people that absolutely love you and that was really awesome and helped me in the recovery process.

"Just knowing I had so many people behind me and supporting me."

After this season, the feeling is mutual.

"It makes you so happy how well she has done," said Purdue trainer Jessica Lipsett, who worked with Mingo when she originally got sick to her recovery. "She has taken all of her limitations in stride, and has worked so much harder to overcome those things."

 

 

 


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