Katie Hnida had a rare reaction to antibiotics that led to her organs failing

By Joelle Goldstein
November 02, 2018 12:35 AM
Katie Hnida
JAKE SCHOELLKOPF/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Katie Hnida, a former college football player and the first woman to play and score points in a Division I college game, was left fighting for her life after an antibiotic reaction caused her to go into multi-organ failure, her family says.

Hnida, a former kicker for the University of New Mexico, was recently prescribed a common, everyday antibiotic, her family explained on a GoFundMe page created to help with her medical expenses. Instead of it helping the 37-year-old former athlete, Hnida suffered a rare reaction to the medication, which put her life in danger.

The antibiotic caused Hnida’s kidney, liver, and bone marrow to all stop functioning properly and shut down, her family said. They also shared that her blood was not clotting properly, causing uncontrollable bleeding.

Because of her declining critical condition, Hnida was admitted to the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit and given emergency dialysis. While there, doctors also contemplated a possible liver transplant surgery.

Katie Hnida
JAKE SCHOELLKOPF/AP/REX/Shutterstock

By some miracle, Hnida’s condition soon improved and she has since been released from the hospital. Her family says she has been “making slow but steady progress as she rests and rehabilitates.”

“She is being cared for by an excellent team of specialists, who are pleased with her progress to date,” her family wrote in a recent update. “They caution, however, that her recovery will be measured in months, not days.”

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Her family is now asking for donations to help Hnida — who currently works as an advocate and educator for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse — recover from the health crisis. They say she is likely to pay more than $155,000 in hospital expenses and other health care needs, but will not be able to work for the next 4-6 months.

So far, the campaign has raised $41,127 for the former athlete.

Hnida started her college career as a kicker at the University of Colorado for one season, before transferring to the University of New Mexico, where she remained for her final three seasons.

For both teams, Hnida became the first woman to play in a college football game, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.

However, in 2003, during New Mexico’s season opener, then-head coach Rocky Long put Hnida in the game to attempt a two-point conversion. Not only did she lead the team to victory, but it also earned Hnida the title of the first woman to score in a college football game, according to the publication.

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Before the life-threatening health incident, Hnida was touring around the country and speaking on behalf of sexual abuse and domestic violence victims, the outlet said. She became an advocate after she was allegedly sexually assaulted by a former teammate while playing at Colorado.

At the time, Hnida did not press charges or come forward with her story. It wasn’t until 2004 — the same year that Colorado was publicly caught in a hazing scandal — that she sat down for an interview with Sports Illustrated and shared her allegations, the Santa Fe New Mexican said.

In response, then-coach Gary Barnett reportedly denied the claims, called Hnida a “distraction to our team,” and made sexist comments criticizing her on-field play.

“It was obvious Katie was not very good. She was awful,” Barnett said, according to Sports Illustrated. “Katie was not only a girl, she was terrible, OK? There’s no other way to say it.”

“It was obvious Katie was not very good. She was awful,” Barnett said, according to Sports Illustrated. “Katie was not only a girl, she was terrible, OK? There’s no other way to say it.”

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