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NC teen caught in Emerald Isle rip current is brain dead, family says

Paige Merical's father wrote on social media Thursday, "I wish I had good news for everyone."
Credit: Emerald Isle, N.C.

The family of the Wake Forest High School student who nearly drowned in a rip current last week said the 17-year-old is brain dead.

Paige Merical's father wrote on social media Thursday, "I wish I had good news for everyone."

He went on to say, "We get to love on my baby for the next few days, with organ donation Saturday."

Merical went to Emerald Isle on Friday to spend the day with her friend and Wake Forest High School classmate, Ian Lewis, whose family had rented a house there.

UPDATE: Wednesday 4/24/2019 We spoke to a family member via message on Tuesday morning and Paige had started breathing on her own a little bit but by Tuesday night she had been placed back on the...

Lewis, 18, got swept off in the same rip current, and his body wasn't found until it washed ashore Monday. Merical was rescued after spending 14 minutes underwater and was rushed to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville.

In an ICU bed, Merical spent many hours breathing on her own with the respirator turned off, family members said. But doctors said she suffered too much brain damage and is unlikely to make a recovery.

"We will do what it takes to keep her with us," said John Merical, Paige's father. "My philosophy in this whole thing is something is better than nothing, and we will give her the best life possible. But at some point, if there's an issue, then we'll say goodbye. It's not time to say goodbye yet."

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