Coverage of Natasha Richardson's Death Saves a Little Girl

News of Natasha Richardson's death lead to lifesaving measures for little girl.

March 27, 2009 — -- The death of actress Natasha Richardson last week was a devastating blow to her family and the acting community. But it was a lifesaver for a 7-year-old Ohio girl.

Two days after Morgan McCracken was hit in the head by a baseball in her family's Mentor, Ohio, backyard, her parents watched news reports about the head injury that eventually killed Richardson, 45, who took a tumble on a Canadian ski slope.

Like Richardson, Morgan didn't show any symptoms initially, other than a bump that went down with ice. Days went by without any reason for the parents to worry.

Donald McCracken said that after the accident, Morgan went to school, played with her brother and lived normally. They even made her teacher aware that she'd been hit in the head.

"We watched her constantly for two days, and no signs until two days later," he said.

But then, just hours after her parents had watched a report on Richardson's injury, Morgan got a headache -- a bad one that made her cry.

"Before bedtime, we were putting her in bed when she started to complain of a headache," Connie McCracken told "Good Morning America." "So after five or 10 minutes, we were very concerned and decided to call the pediatrician."

After speaking with the doctor, the McCrackens rushed Morgan to the emergency room.

Morgan was given a CT scan and put on a helicopter to Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland, where she went into the operating room within three minutes of her arrival.

"It was pretty dramatic," said Dr. Alan Cohen, the hospital's chief of pediatric neurosurgery. "Time is really critical in something like this."

Morgan had been diagnosed with an epidural hematoma, or bleeding between the skull and the lining of the brain -- the same injury as Richardson.

Her CT scan showed a white area near the top -- a blood clot -- that was putting pressure on her brain. The doctors were able to surgically remove the clot, possibly saving Morgan's life.

This type of injury occurs when a blood vessel gets torn and the bleeding within the confines of the skull grows and compresses the brain, Cohen said, eventually causing brain damage and death if not treated in time.

From Tragedy Comes Triumph

While Richardson slipped into a coma just hours after her accident and never recovered, Morgan was lucid for days.

Cohen said that while the injuries were similar, Richardson likely tore an artery in her brain, while Morgan tore a vein, "a big one that drains the brain, but that was slow."

Morgan, with a surgical incision across the top her of head and a bright smile, is expected to make a full recovery.

Cohen said epidural hematomas are "the most dramatic injuries in the field of medicine.

"The speed with which we can remove it, get the blood clot out in the operating room, can literally make the difference between life and death," he said.

Connie McCracken said Richardson's family, who decided to donate the actress' organs, has her deepest sympathies.

"We're so sorry that this happened to such a young, intelligent person," she said. "I hope that from tragedy maybe there will be some triumph if we can save people because of increased awareness."