College senior dies following brain hemorrhage on spring break trip


(NEW YORK) — Liza Burke, a 21-year-old college student at the University of Georgia, died Friday, nearly two months after she sustained a brain hemorrhage during a spring break trip to Mexico, according to her mother.

Burke’s mom, Laura McKeithan, shared an obituary on Facebook on Sunday, writing, “Following a six-week battle with a previously-undiagnosed brain tumor, Liza transitioned into the next realm peacefully while being cared for by friends and family.”

PHOTO: Liza Burke, a senior at the University of Georgia, suffered a medical emergency while on a spring break trip to Mexico.
Liza Burke, a senior at the University of Georgia, suffered a medical emergency while on a spring break trip to Mexico.
Courtesy Laura McKeithan
McKeithan told ABC News her daughter had “a knack for living life.” She also described Burke as a curious and loving person who adored animals and cared about the environment.

“Liza lived large, like every day could be her last,” McKeithan wrote on Facebook. “She was not only at ease in nature, she was intrepid—whether watching sunsets from a mountain top tent, swimming solo across any body of water, or surfing in Central America. As Liza matured, she accomplished more in 21 years than many people do in a lifetime. She spoke two languages, played guitar, traveled the world, went skydiving, hiked across a glacier, joyfully sang and danced — always without fear of judgement.”

In March, Burke had traveled with friends to Cabo San Lucas for spring break. During the trip, Burke had complained of a headache and went to lay down. Her friends later found her unresponsive, according to McKeithan, who added that Burke was transported to a local hospital and underwent surgery to relieve a brain bleed.

She was moved from the hospital in Mexico to The Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, where she had been making a slow recovery, according to McKeithan.

McKeithan said doctors had discovered her daughter had a tumor on her brain stem and were running tests to find out more information about her condition.

Burke was responsive then and had been able to open her eyes and squeeze her mom’s hand, according to McKeithan, but her prognosis quickly deteriorated. McKeithan said Burke went from being able to speak and walk to only being able to wiggle her toes and lift her eyebrows.

“At that point, we decided that we were going to take her somewhere to live out her final days where she could be surrounded by friends and family. So we rented a house near water, it’s on an inlet, where her family and her friends could come be with her and we could pull her outside into the breeze,” McKeithan said.

In Burke’s obituary, McKeithan said, “In her short time here, she gave off an extraordinary amount of light, energy, and love. Her life serves a reminder to go through life unapologetically, take chances, speak and act boldly, cherish the little things, laugh often, and to stay present.”

Burke is survived by her father, mother, stepfather and older brother.

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