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Oklahoma toddler survives rare form of bacterial meningitis caused by tuberculosis

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BETHANY, Okla. - Every little move Hunter makes is a milestone for his mom.

As she holds him close, Danielle Balentine rocks him gently and whispers, "I just love on you."

She says she is delighted every time Hunter raises his foot or an arm.

Just a few weeks ago, Hunter was in a coma and fighting for his life.

It all started with fever and vomiting that lasted for several days.

Then Hunter's symptoms got worse.

"He was just really stiff. He had his head cocked to the side and his eyes were glazed over," Balentine said.

As it turns out, Hunter was having a seizure.

Terrified, his family rushed the him to the emergency room and from there, the toddler was airlifted to a hospital in Dallas.

Doctors diagnosed Hunter with bacterial meningitis caused by a tuberculosis infection.

It is a rare complication of TB.

"It is relatively uncommon in the United States accounting for maybe 2 percent of cases of meningitis," says Dr. Michael Johnson, Hunter's doctor at the Children's Center Rehabilitation Hospital in Bethany where the toddler is recovering.

Not knowing how the little boy may have contracted TB, doctors started him on a life-saving treatment.

"They immediately started the meningitis medication, and they are the ones that saved him," says Balentine, referring to the team of physicians who treated her son at Dallas Children's Medical Center.

Unfortunately, Hunter was left with brain damage.

Only time will tell how severe the damage is, and how much it will play into his prognosis and recovery.

Bacterial meningitis can be deadly, so Hunter's doctor says he is already beating the odds every day.

"The number of people that die with this form of meningitis is higher than with some other forms," says Dr. Johnson.

Balentine is taking it one day at a time, and relying on tremendous faith.

She hopes her son's story will resonate with other parents facing a child's illness.

"Take all the tests they need to do to make sure your kid is okay," she says. "If you notice something, then you're the parent. You know better than any doctor will."

The family, who is from Idabel,  has set up a Facebook page called 'Hope 4 Hunter', and a GoFundMe page to help with Hunter's medical expenses.