- Associated Press - Friday, December 26, 2014

MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) - The reigning queen of Medford’s Pear Blossom Festival is counting her blessings after emergency heart surgery.

Shawntell Michalke (mih-CAUL-kee) suffers from a rare disease that leaves the walls of her blood vessels dangerously thin.

The Mail Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/1roDXnB ) she was walking across campus at Southern Oregon University in Ashland last month when she collapsed, unable to speak or breath.

A scan of her chest showed her aorta had split, so surgeons put it back together in a six-hour surgery.

Michalke says she is getting ready to take the final exams she missed, and still hopes to become a nurse.

She says her experience will give her the compassion and understanding she will need to be a good nurse.

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Information from: Mail Tribune, http://www.mailtribune.com/

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