Duval County

UGA student recovering in Jacksonville after she suffered brain hemorrhage on spring break in Mexico

Family members have worked tirelessly to rush a University of Georgia student out of Mexico and back to the United States after a medical emergency while on spring break vacation.

Liza Burke was in Cabo, Mexico with friends when she fell unconscious and needed emergency brain surgery.


Burke should’ve flown back into Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport over the weekend with her friends after one final college spring break, but on Friday, her last day in Cabo, what started as a migraine led to her needing emergency surgery.

“She started to have a headache so she said, ‘I’m going to go back to the room to lay down and take some medicine,’” family friend Jennifer Ritter told Candace McCowan with Action News Jax’s Atlanta sister station WSB-TV. “Her friends went back later to check on her and they couldn’t wake her up.”

READ: DeSantis makes case against ‘DEI’ as OneJax severs ties with UNF over Governor’s anti-DEI crusade

Burke was rushed to the hospital in Cabo where doctors discovered a brain bleed and performed emergency surgery to remove part of her skull.

“She was diagnosed with this abnormality in her brain called arteriovenous malformation which she’s had since birth and nobody knew she had it,” Ritter said.

READ: Meta to lay off 10,000 employees, Zuckerberg says

Burke is now on life support and her family has been anxious to get her back the United States for treatment.

“This could’ve happened to her in Athens. It could have happened to her when she was home. It just happened to happen in Mexico,” Ritter said.

Ritter said Burke is a senior who is set to graduate in May and has a job lined up in Charlotte.

[DOWNLOAD: Free Action News Jax app for alerts as news breaks]

On campus, Burke’s friends, sorority sisters and the UGA community are rallying behind her. A GoFundMe page raised more than $100,000 in about 24 hours.

But even once she is back in the U.S., Liza has a long road to recovery and her family is asking everyone to help in one particular way.

“It’s about the prayers. Prayer we very much believe in prayer,” Ritter said.

[SIGN UP: Action News Jax Daily Headlines Newsletter]

Burke’s family was hoping she would be back in the United States Monday night, but the flight from San Diego to Cabo was held up by a presidential visit Monday.

Burke’s family confirmed to McCowan on Tuesday morning that they have made it through customs in Houston and Burke is back in Jacksonville, where her mother lives.

Burke has a long road ahead, but her family has some hope. Her mother said Burke squeezed her hand Sunday night.

Click here to download the free Action News Jax news and weather apps, click here to download the Action News Jax Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Action News Jax live.