After nearly losing their daughter to the flu, a Miami couple rang in the New Year with a new sense of gratitude for Life. Four-year-old Gemma began exhibiting mild flu symptoms several weeks before Christmas, but her parents, Alex and Lejla, did not realize at the time that the flu is potentially deadly – especially in children, elderly adults, and individuals who are immunocompromised. They never obtained a flu shot for Gemma at the start of the season. After her parents contacted loved ones all over the world to beg for prayers for the little girl, Gemma experienced what can only be called a miraculous recovery, pulling through what seemed to be a hopeless circumstance.
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Several days after she initially exhibited symptoms, Gemma’s condition worsened and her parents were concerned that something was seriously wrong by the way her voice sounded when she spoke. They brought her to the emergency room, and the little girl went into cardiac arrest; the flu virus had attacked her heart. Gemma flatlined and efforts by her medical team proved fruitless. She spent three days with zero cardiac activity, kept alive by a machine. Doctors believed a heart transplant was Gemma’s only hope for survival apart from the machine.
Gemma’s parents contacted family members in countries all over the world asking everyone to have a Mass said at the same time. The day of the Masses, Gemma began to show inexplicable signs of life. Her doctor could not provide a medical explanation of how function was restored to Gemma’s heart. Her parents consider Gemma’s recovery a Christmas miracle.
Gemma is not an anomaly. There are countless documented cases of patients with terminal diagnoses making recoveries that defied what doctors thought possible. Gemma’s happy ending reminds us of an important lesson – one that Texas, with our draconian Texas Advance Directives Act, seems to have forgotten: no human person should ever be discarded or denied care based on the judgment that he or she is a “futile” medical case.