After going to the hospital complaining of back pain, it turns out former Dance Moms star Abby Lee Miller almost died from a serious spinal infection.
Dr. Hooman M. Melamed, who treated Miller, opened up to PEOPLE about Miller’s ordeal, saying it all began with back pain, arm weakness, and “excruciating neck pain.”
“Over the next two days, her condition started deteriorating,” Melamed said of Miller’s time in Cedar Sinai Marina Del Rey Hospital. “Not just her pain, but her weakness started getting worse. In the span of 24 hours, which was something that I have not seen, her condition rapidly deteriorated. She was completely paralyzed from the neck down.”
After her blood pressure began to get dangerously low, they couldn’t move her to another hospital. “We did a CT and we saw what appeared to be an infection that had spread from the bottom of her neck all the way to the lower part of her back… which is extremely unusual,” he said. “If we didn’t do something, she was going to die. Her blood pressure was bottoming out. She was not doing well,” he added.
Now that she has been treated and stabilized, Miller is seeing an improvement, but the doctor added it is too early to tell what the lasting effects will be. “She’s made some recovery in 24 hours, which is better than no recovery,” he said. “Nobody wants to end up thinking they’re going to be paralyzed for the rest of their life. That’s a reality that’s facing all of these patients going into it. All you can do is pray and, as a surgeon, you maximize everything you can for the spinal cord to recover itself. I am hopeful.”
Miller had recently entered the Residential Reentry Center in Long Beach after serving her time in prison for bankruptcy fraud before the sudden hospitalization.
As for what caused the infection and why Miller’s health declined so quickly, Melamed has no answers. “There could be a million reasons of this. Normally, you see this in someone who is compromised, if they have diabetes or [are] a smoker or [have] heart problems, but that’s not really her,” he said. “She has a very well controlled diabetes, actually her numbers are in the pre-diabetic range so to see something like that, it is extremely unusual.”