The Calgary Sun talked to someone I care about a lot, Stephanie Smith:

It was 2007 when the 20-year-old dance instructor ate a hamburger at a family dinner, an event so innocuous that even a bout of stomach cramps hours later were shrugged off by Smith as no big deal.

But what Smith suspected was stomach flu grew worse, and five days after the family meal, the healthy young woman was rushed to a Minnesota hospital in agony, suffering from bloody diarrhea and kidney failure.

Smith was a worst-case scenario for the bacteria now causing a public-health debate in Canada, with E. coli attacking her entire system and forcing doctors to induce a nine-week coma to control seizures.

She survived, though barely, and five years later Smith’s life is an endless regime of doctor’s visits, therapy and learning to deal with daily life in a wheelchair.

“I still ask that every day — why me?” said Smith, whose case exposed major weaknesses in the U.S. meat inspection system, leading to an undisclosed settlement with Cargill Inc.

 See, “A Dancer’s Fight with E. coli O157:H7.”