Emmas Story

AngelEm

Emma Grace George

June 05, 2001 – April 22, 2011

Photo Edited by Darcy

You can view videos of Emma’s Transplant here:
Before and After Transplant

You can view Emma’s Autism Awareness Video here:
Autism Awareness Video

You can read about Emma’s new development of seizures here:

The day she seized

The Day She Met Jesus:

That Day

The Beginning

When we first found out that we were pregnant with Emma in the fall of 2000, our first thought was “how”. Our son was only 5 months old at the time. I had just had surgery to remove precancerous cells from my cervix only 3 weeks prior. “How can we do this now” was the first question that popped into my mind. We had just moved to our current city the previous year and were in the beginning stages of planting a church, financially we were becoming stable for the first time in a long time. Little did my husband or I realize that the Lord had so much more planned for us in 2001.

In March of 2001, Mark was offered a promotion with his current employer. It would require us moving to Sarasota which appealed to us because my family was there, but the timing felt really odd. I had just had my 19 week sonogram and other than some bleeding and horrible morning sickness, the pregnancy was going beautifully. After much thought and prayer, Mark and I realized the Lord was leading us to take the promotion. Although we couldn’t understand His timing, there was later no doubt His hands were holding us in this decision.

Once we moved into our new home, and became settled, I began the search for an OBGYN. This was not as easy as I had assumed it would be. Because I was late in my pregnancy, and my first birth was complicated and due to my cervical complications, I was told I would need to be evaluated by a perinatoligist prior to being accepted by an OB. I scheduled my Peri visit for April 4th, 2001.

The Visit

On April 4th, the day began as any other day would. I arrived at the peri’s office and sat in the waiting room. I saw many pregnant women and thought to myself
“I wonder what is wrong with their baby” and silently was very thankful that my daughter was healthy and this was just a “formality visit”. Soon that thought would haunt me tremendously.
When the nurse called my name, I went back, laid down on the table and we began the normal “chit chat” about baby names and due dates. I was very excited about this visit because we had not seen Emma’s face as of yet, due to positioning during our other ultrasounds. This was supposed to be a sonogram of my cervix only, but I was determined to get a peek at her face this time. I remember asking to see Emma’s face. As she scanned up, the temperature in the room suddenly felt very cold. I remember all conversation stopping and the nurse saying “The doctor will come in and review the sonogram in a moment” with a smile on her face as she tried not to alarm me. Needless to say, she failed miserably.

The Doctor came in only moments after the nurse had left. Quickly he sat down, and stared at the 4 chambers of my daughter’s heart. The room was completely silent; I could hear every breath he took. Finally, after what seemed to be an eternity, I said to him “You are being way to quiet, and you’ve been looking at her heart way too long, what is wrong with my baby?”. He proceeded to ask me if I had anyone that could meet me at his office. That is when I really knew something was wrong. I called my mother, since Mark was at work, over 40 minutes away. He proceeded to tell me that there was a problem with my daughter’s heart, but he wanted to wait until my family member arrived before going into any detail. My heart literally stopped beating. I have never known pain like that before. I never wanted to feel it again.

I sat in his office, alone, with a box of Kleenex and went completely numb as I cried uncontrollably.

My mother arrived, we all sat down, and he proceeded to tell us that Emma’s heart was grossly enlarged. A normal heart is about 30% of an infant chest cavity. Emma’s was bordering 75%. That her left lung was non existent (which was not accurate, but due to the size of her heart, it was completely collapse and non visible by sonogram). She had a huge amount of fluid build up due to her heart failure. Our daughter was in the last stages of heart failure. She had Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. The pain that I had felt before, the pain that I said I had never experience before, it was nothing compared to the pain I was feeling at that moment. He proceeded to tell me that my daughter would die before her due date. My heart stopped again.

Questions started popping into my head. “What caused this?”. “I had a bad flu this winter and didn’t go to the doctor”, “How do we treat it?” I completely blocked out the last part of his conversation with me. I was not going to entertain the thought of my daughter dying. It simply was not going to happen. My questions came flooding out of my mouth, one after another. I did not allow any pause for responses from the doctor. My mind was in overdrive. Finally, he stopped me. He told me that he needed to make a phone call to see if he could get me into a fetal cardiologist that day. He was able to get us in, we had 1 hour to make a 45 minute trip. Luckily the fetal cardiologist was in the same town that my husband worked in, so he could meet us there. All I wanted was my husband at that point; he could tell me this was all a bad dream. Needless to say, we left very quickly, but not before the doctor took my hand, and said “Mrs. George, I am so very sorry”.

The Drive

I do not remember saying a lot during the drive to the Childrens Hospital. I remember my mom telling me we could face whatever was given to us, as the tears streamed down my face. I then remember saying something that, to this day, hits me like a brick. “I can handle anything except a transplant, Lord please, just make her okay”. I starred out the window at the sky way bridge, feeling complete hopelessness and grief. Little did I know how much I would reflect on those words later in our Journey.

My husband met us at the Children’s Hospital, not many words were spoken. I remember walking in, lying down on the table. The Doctor came in, and proceeded to do an Echo-cardiogram. I remember him saying “This heart is very exciting”, and I remember wanting to beat the heck out of him. I remember going into his office, sitting down. He drew two pictures, one of a healthy heart, and one of Emma’s heart. He wrote the words “Pompes Disease” at the top of the page (the movie “Extraordinary Measures” was about this diesase), told us that our daughter had what was called a glycogen storage disease. I asked him how we treated it. He quickly replied with “You don’t”. He told us that our daughter had an incurable disease, and she would die within 2 weeks. We should call him when she stopped kicking.I felt the world fall out from under me. I held my stomach and prayed for her to stop kicking, to pass away peacefully and for this to all be over. Unfortunately the nightmare was just beginning.

The next few days are a blur. I spent a lot of time crying, a lot of time reading websites on still birth and looking at pictures of still born babies. I was trying to prepare myself for giving birth to a baby who had already died. I mainly remember the uncontrollable crying. The hours I spent counting her kicks, the aching in my heart and the emptiness I felt.

Peace

It was during the next few days that we planned her funeral, picked out her little white casket, and notified family members. Saturday we were scheduled to pick out her name plate. I woke up that morning with a peace that I can’t describe. I told My husband that I did not believe that Emma was going to die. He, being the wonderful husband that he is, lovingly supported me, knowing that denial is one of the many stages of grief. I looked him square in the eyes and said “No, she isn’t going to die”. We both agreed that getting a second opinion wouldn’t be a bad idea. From that point on, death was not mentioned in my presence. We scheduled an appointment with another Doctor in Orlando Florida. I am not sure of the exact date we met with him, but I remember the appointment like it was yesterday. He told us that Emma did not have Pompes, in fact her heart did not remotely resemble a Pompes heart, but he did not know what she had. He said that he couldn’t promise us a different outcome, but he did want to put me on Digoxin because it was thought to pass thru the placenta. He scheduled an amnio to rule out pompes (I remember thinking to myself, “Why wasn’t this done before?”). The amnio did rule out Pompes Disease, but left us with many unanswered questions.  The odds for her being born alive were very low, but of course as a mom, I held to that little glimmer of hope like nothing else. He told us that we had to get her to 34 weeks before we could effectively treat her outside the womb. He said she would need ECMO (heart lung bypass) if she did survive the birth, but his opinion was that she would pass before we got to that point. I asked him what we were looking at if she did beat the odds, I remember his exact words “Mrs. George, your daughter will be severely brain damaged due to hydrops (fluid build up), for her, dying before she is born is not necessarily a bad thing, as much as it will hurt you”. I asked him if transplant was an option, he said no. I never asked why. He told me not to be heroic in her birthing plan, that it was unnecessary for me to undergo a c-section, and that we should sign DNR papers prior to her birth. We obviously disagreed.

My mother in law graciously offered to move to our state from her home to help with the other two kids during this uncertain time. She had just buried her sister, who died of cancer shortly before we found out about Emma. I am still, to this day, amazed at her willingness to help given those circumstances.

We decided that Emma should be born in Orlando, because that was where this doctor was. We packed up our family and moved into our dear friends vacation home. We patiently awaited Emma impending birth. More so with fear, than excitement.  My doctors visits became more frequent. We were at the children’s hospital weekly for a battery of tests. At this point Emma was receiving Echo Cardiograms 2 times a week in utero to monitor any changes in her heart condition. I was admitted to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Women and Children at 27 weeks for permanent bed rest. By this time, Emma was almost 6 pounds, with over a pound of fluid on her body due to the continued heart failure, my amniotic fluid was abundant, and I was completely miserable at 240 pounds. The fluid build up in my uterus and on Emma was extremely alarming. By the 32nd week, the fluid was beginning to take a toll on my body. My ureters were blocked, my kidneys were backed up, and kidney failure was brought to my attention. I was urged to deliver immediately, but we had not yet reached 34 weeks, so my answer was no. I can deal with the pain, I had an obligation to my daughter, and it was a promise I was going to keep. We pressed on; marking the days off the calendar until my 34 weeks was over.

The Birth

The 34 week point came. The feelings I had were indescribable. Anticipation without excitement. Longing without Joy. Fear. I was scheduled for another Echo Cardiogram that day, along with a scan of my kidneys. Honestly, I was expecting to leave that appointment and carry Emma for a few more days, if not weeks. My kidneys disagreed. I was scheduled for an emergency C-Section. The rest is a blur, mainly due to drugs and blocking it out. I remember Mark coming from work, I was already on the table, and the drape was put up. I remember the nurse asking us if we wanted to sign DNR papers, and again we declined. It was awkward because you could tell the staff didn’t know how to act, some were acting like it was a normal delivery, while others couldn’t help but check on me and rub my arms every time they walked by. I just wanted it over, I wanted to face what was coming, and move on with life. This had taken away apart of me that I don’t think I will ever get back. Innocence was lost.  The surgeon informed us that the incision had been made; he walked us thru everything he did. We had been told she wouldn’t cry when she was born, and we had prepared for our first meeting with her to be heart wrenching. We hadn’t really prepared for what actually happened.  Emma proceeded to cry loudly. I honestly didn’t believe it was her that was crying. The surgeon said “Congratulations!” and handed her off to the NICU team. I remember the room getting really quiet as she stopped breathing. I remember them working on her for what seemed like forever, but was really only about 10 minutes. They ran her by me, but I don’t remember seeing her. I remember crying with Mark, and feeling hope for the first time in a long time. She was finally here. I laid there for what seemed like hours, all I could do was ask how she was. I kept asking the nurse “She was breathing, right?”. I probably asked her that 40 times. She gently smiled and answered “yes” every time. I am not sure how long it was before Mark was able to see her; they had to work on her for quite sometime in NICU. When he did see her and came back to me, he had a picture of her. I cant describe it, seeing her for the first time. The fluid buildup was so much more than I had prepared myself for, and the tubes and cords covered every inch of her body, but I was mesmerized, this was my beautiful little girl . She had proven them all wrong.  Over the next 2 weeks, many things happened. We went thru a roller coaster of emotions. I spent hours by her bedside, stroking her little feet, holding her tiny hands. Singing to her, memorizing her. I didn’t know how to let her go. Daily something went wrong, and we prepared ourselves for the worse. I cant describe how hard it was constantly watching your emotions go around and around. This was just the beginning of a very long and emotional journey. But we had made it to the beginning, and that was all I needed.

The Transplant

When Emma was 2 weeks old, the doctor approached us and informed us that there wasn’t anything else they could do for her. I started crying, trying to come to grips with what I thought he was saying. He proceeded to tell us that he wanted to transfer Emma to a Transplant facility because they could care for her on an extended basis. My world stood still, and I asked him to repeat himself. He told us that he had been in contact with a transplant facility, and they had agreed to take her, they just needed our approval so that transport could come and get her. There was finally light at the end of this tunnel. An entire new set of emotions set in. I battled with not getting my hopes up, but I wanted so much to believe that this all soon would be over and she was going to be fine. The ambulance came later that night, and we were on our way.  We arrived at the transplant hospital at about 2 am. We met with many doctors and nurses within the next 24 hours. Emma was placed in Level 3 Nicu, on life support. She started out on an oscillating ventilator, and weaned herself down to the regular vent. She never required ECMO, which to this day is amazing to all her doctors.  We asked the transplant cardiologist how long it would take to get her a heart. He said the average wait is 2 weeks for her blood type. That was music to our ears. We spent most days by her bedside, and the other times glued to the pager and cell phone. Emma waited almost 5 months on life support for her heart, in NICU.  I spent every day with her, holding her, bathing her, singing to her.  I, to this day, believe that the majority of the reason she was here is because she knew she was loved, and had something and someone to fight for. I spent most days just gazing at her in tears. She taught me so much in those 5 months, things that I had no idea I was capable of learning.

We received 4 calls on possible donors for Emma, all of which ended up falling thru. The hardest thing out of all of this is bringing your emotions down after hearing that a donor has been found, and dismissed. On October 1, 2001 we received the call we had been waiting for. The transplant coordinator called us at around 1 am and informed us that there was a perfect match, and that Emma was going to be prepped for transplant surgery within the next 4 hours. That she had already been started on the immune-suppressant medication, and the heart had been accepted. We were at the hospital in record time that night.

We arrived in the NICU, and the nurses had dressed her up for us. We took so many pictures & video, and in the back of my mind I prepared myself once again, for this to be the last time I saw my daughter. As I held her, the donors family became very heavy on my heart. While I sat there rocking my precious daughter, they were mourning the loss of their child. I held Emma and prayed for them, and cried. They were feeling the emotions that I feared. Because of their child’s death, my daughter would get a second chance. Somehow it didn’t seem fair, and I felt guilty for being excited for my daughter. I closed my eyes and fell asleep in the rocking chair holding her, I felt complete peace regarding what was about to happen. My daughter was going to be fine.  The surgical team came down to meet with us. The surgeon and I had formed a great friendship during our 4 months at her transplant hospital. The staff there all knew about Emma, and were anxiously awaiting “her day”. We talked about the possibility that she may not make it out of the OR, that they could remove her heart, and put the new heart in and it not work. We talked about what she would look like when she came out of the OR, and the protocol for visiting her in SICU. I kissed her head, and she was taken from my arms. We watched as they wheeled her down the hall. I spent the next hour clearing her space in the NICU, praying that I would have a space in SICU to put it all.  More than anything, I wanted everything to be okay.

October 2nd-Emma’s Re-Birthday.

The surgery lasted about 4 hours. Everything went beautifully. Emma looked horrible when I saw her in SICU. She was so puffy and swollen, and her chest was bruised up from breaking her ribs and opening her chest. She, once again was covered in tubes and cords. The same emotions I had the first time I saw her after her birth flooded me again. We once again were at the beginning. We had never seen Emma’s complete face, due to the tape and tubing that was sustaining her life. For almost 5 months, it was a part of her. I did not know her without a breathing tube. It took her 3 days to wean herself from the vent after her transplant. That was the most emotional day for me, I think. My daughter was living on her own, breathing on her own, sustaining her own life. We had a long road ahead of us, but at least now I knew she was capable of breathing.  As odd as it sounds, it was my biggest fear thru all of this; she wouldn’t be able to live off the vent. Emma came home 14 days after her transplant. Life went semi back to normal for us, but something never was completely right with her. She was so frail, and fragile. We, for the first 3 months, blamed it on the transplant and the effects of 4 months in the hospital, but when she couldn’t sit up, or hold her head up on her own, we knew something was wrong. We had no idea that, once again, our world was about to turn upside down. We would soon be starting at the beginning yet again.

The Beginning, Again

When Emma was transplanted, we sent her old heart tissue off to be biopsied. We still had no idea what had caused our daughters heart failure, nor did we know why she wasn’t thriving. Those test results came back, our daughter had Histiocytoid Cardiomyopathy. I spent the next few months researching this disease, but there wasn’t much info on it. There were only 60 documented causes that I could find, and most were diagnosed upon autopsy. Almost all included fatal forms of hydrops, and many were the result of Mitochondrial Myopathy. That was a term I had never heard before, so I dove in head first trying to find out exactly what it was. In the meantime, Emma was still not growing; she was eating like a champ, but not gaining any weight. She was instead, losing what little weight she did have. We, along with her doctors decided it was time for her to have G-tube placed. This was a huge step back for me, and took many weeks for me to come to grips with. After seeing her completely tubeless for months, I couldn’t cope with having to hook her up to yet another machine. I knew it was what was best for her, but I felt like it was such a defeat, a huge step backwards.

Emma started out eating regular formula. She was not gaining, so we slowly started increasing her Calories. By the time she was 10 months old, she was on 34 calorie formula. This was the highest caloric formula available, and she was still not gaining. She was receiving Physical Therapy 2 times a week and still could not sit up. Things just seemed to be stuck, and I didn’t know how to fix them. She started showing signs of acidosis. She would breathe rapidly (120-140 breaths a minute) and would become very lethargic. I had remembered in reading about Mitochondrial diseases that acidosis was symptom. I brought this up with her cardiologist but was told that this was not a concern, and I needed to stop reading the internet. I left his office feeling very defeated and helpless. I wanted so badly for someone to help me with my daughter, but I felt no one was listening, meanwhile, Emma was wasting away.

I began my search again online, searching symptoms that matched what we were going thru with Emma. I stumbled across The United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation, and read for hours. I was dumbfounded at how similar the symptoms were to my daughters. I contacted a mom who lived near me, and we talked for hours. It was so nice to finally have someone who listened to me, someone who understood. She informed me of some doctors that I needed to contact, one of which was Dr. DiMauro in New York. He could not treat her, but because he was a pathologist who had been one of the founding fathers of the mitochondrial disease, he could point us in the right direction. This would be one of the many contacts that would save Emma’s life. I proceeded to do some research on Dr. DiMauro, and discovered that he was to be in Orlando for a Rare Diseases conference the next day. I promptly made arrangements to be at this conference and to listen to him speak on Mitochondrial diseases. I contacted Emma’s Pediatrician, who had been extremely supportive and cooperative regarding my search. She took the time that afternoon to go thru Emma’s charts and pull the pertinent information relating to her lack of progress, and all the tests that had been done up to that point. I went and picked them up later that day, and prepared myself for a face to face encounter with Dr. DiMauro. I didn’t sleep at all that night. The next morning, my mother and I drove to Orlando with Emma. We sat thru the seminar, not really understanding most of what was being said. I did have some sort of understanding of the basics of the disease, due to my research prior to going to the seminar, so I wasn’t completely lost. Emma sat in the sling for the entire thing.When it was over, I promptly handed her over to my mom, and took all of her medical records to the front of the room. I approached Dr. DiMauro and explained our situation, handed him her records, and begged for his help. He was very nice, and very interested in her case. He told me that he was flying out of the country the next morning, but would review her records while he was gone and contact me when he returned. Upon his return, he called and informed me that the he was very intrigued with Emma’s case and wanted to pursue it further with his colleagues. He also wanted to take it on for free. He asked me if there was any heart tissue remaining, I told him I would have to check. He told me that if there was tissue remaining, he would like for me to send it to him for studies. We agreed to stay in contact weekly for the time being.I contacted her transplant hospital to request the remaining tissue from pathology. I gave them information needed, and breathed a large sigh of relief. We were, yet again, at the beginning. But at least this time someone was listening. I waited patiently by the phone for Dr. DiMauro to contact me to inform me that he had received the tissue.

Emotions and Anger

The following week, Dr. DiMauro called. He had never received her tissue. I promptly called the pathology department at her transplant hospital. This time I asked to speak to the pathologist. We spoke briefly, he remembered Emma’s case because it was so unique. I asked him if he could please make sure the tissue got sent out as soon as possible, he told me that a mitochondrial study had already been done on her old heart. I was shocked. I asked him if he was certain, and he told me that he was positive, because he ordered it over a year ago. I asked him if he could fax me the results, deep inside I knew he couldn’t. I would have to go thru Emma’s doctors in order to get the results.Those of you who know me, know that I am not the most patient person in the world. I am very determined to get the results that I feel are owed. I did not feel that we should have to wait to get the results from her doctors, it had been almost 2 years at this point, and we had waited long enough. I researched until I found the lab in which the study was done. (The pathologist had told me that he had to order the test at an outside hospital, because it was specialized test). Once I found out the research hospital, I called the head pathologist. I spoke with the pathologist, explained our situation, she also remembered Emma’s case. She informed me that not only did she have the results, but she also had remaining tissue left over, if further studies were needed. She told me that she usually would not give out such information, but if I would fax a medical release form to her from Emma’s pediatricians office, she would immediately fax the results of the test. She was astounded that we had never been notified of results. Of course I was at the Pediatricians office immediately. The fax finally came thru.

Diagnosis Day, A Year Later

Emma had been diagnosed January of 2001 with Complex 1 mitochondrial myopathy. Almost a full year prior to the date I had received the fax. I sat in the car and cried. There was such release, but once again, there was no joy in the discovery. Mitochondrial diseases are fatal. The thrill of the hunt was rewarded with a death sentence for my daughter. I think in the midst of needing answers, I hadn’t stopped to think about what those answers could possibly mean for her. Hopelessness, once again, took over. I went home and called my husband, he didn’t understand half of what I was telling him. He told me to call Dr. DiMauro, which I did immediately. Dr. DiMauro asked that the remaining tissue be sent to him, for further testing. When I told him what lab had the tissue, he informed me that he had trained that pathologist, and that getting the tissue would be easier than he had expected. He would take care of it personally, I didn’t need to worry. I was relieved, as much as I could be, considering the brick that just flew into our lives.

In the meantime, Emma continued to not thrive, continued to be acidotic, and continued to have no muscle tone. I awaited the results of the second set of tests from Dr. DiMauro before I pursued anything further for her. We maintained the best that we could. We were frequent visitors at the childrens hospital, Emma had become quite the popular kid on the 6th floor. It made things easier for me to see how much everyone loved her. I was still numb.Dr. DiMauro called, to let me know that he had received the results of the tests. Emma also had Complex III, I was devastated. I experienced every emotion at the speed of light. I was angry, hurt, confused but most of all sad because of everything that my daughter was going to have to go thru. Mitochondrial Disease patients are not usually candidates for transplant, due to multi organ involvement. Emma would not have been transplanted had we known in advance that she had a mitochondrial disease. That haunted me. It was a blessing and a curse. I was so happy that my daughter was still here, but part of me wondered if it was cruel to have transplanted her, given what life would be like for her having this disease. I couldn’t second guess myself, all I could do was continue to be her advocate. It was time to search out doctors who could help, she at least deserved that. Over the next few months, we battled constant illnesses. We did all we could to maintain a healthy balance for Emma. Between constant respiratory distress, weight loss, acidosis and muscle fatigue, life was not pleasant for her. We had no luck in finding a doctor to treat her, this disease was so rare that they were few and far between. Most of the treatment that we tried was found by me or her pediatrician, online. We started Emma on supplements. She began a daily regimen of CoQ10 and Carnitor along with her other transplant medications. She was on major doses of Bicitra to counter act the acidosis. She was receiving injections 3 times a week for anemia. She finally started to plateau, but she wasn’t improving. Standing still was not what I wanted for my daughter, so we pressed on, searching for a doctor to help us with Emma’s care.

The Answer to Our Prayers

My husband and I had wanted to move back to our home town for quite sometime. An opportunity arose for us to make the move. I researched the local children’s hospital and walked away very impressed. This could be the place where we found the perfect doctor to treat this disease. We promptly made the arrangements to move to there in the fall of 2003.Upon our arrival to our new home city, Emma became sick. She was hospitalized for over a week due to respiratory distress and acidosis. During this time, we underwent a battery of tests and met so many doctors. Finally one of the cardiologists informed us that they had a geneticist who treated patients with Mitochondrial diseases. My heart stopped. I asked to have him consulted immediately. That evening we met with Dr. P, and knew right away that this was the answer to our prayers.

2 Years went by, and Emma finally showed the improvement we were all hoping and praying for. She was very developmentally delayed, but she was a fighter, and boy could she dance!

Starting Over, Again

January of 2006 proved to be a very trying time for our family. Emma was admitted to ICU New Years Eve, and diagnosed to be in heart failure again. Every test and biopsied proved that she was not in “normal” rejection and the doctors were stumped. After her 3rd heart biopsy, it was decided that she had coronary artery disease. She spent 4 straight weeks (only leaving once, and had to be life flighted back within 2 days after turning blue in church) in ICU.

The doctors informed us that there is no strong treatment for Transplant Related Coronary Artery disease. That the typical surgery (placing a stint in her arteries) would not work. Re-Transplantation was our best chance at a future for our daughter. Emma was worked up for the Transplant list, and is ready to go on it as soon as the time comes. Our hope is to get as much time out of her current heart as possible before putting her thru another surgery. She was placed on a 24 hr drip of Milrinone therapy  We were aware of the odds, and had come to peace with them, as much as a parent can.

Miraculously, Emma did not require a second transplant and we were allowed to take her home. She was home in time for her older sisters birthday on Valentines day!

Emma was also diagnosed with Autism in 2007 and attended special school that can meet her needs.

In February of 2010 she contracted a virus (metapnuemovirus) that attacked her kidneys and lungs. She spent months in ICU on a ventilator (breathing tube). In April of 2010 she came home and within 24 hours she suffered one of many Grand mal seizures. She continued to sub clinically seize (brain seizing but body is still) for 3 days until the decision was made to put her into a medically induced coma. When she woke up, she could no longer speak or see. She has been diagnosed with Cortical Vision Impairment and can say a few words.

Almost a year later, Emma passed away on Good Friday 2011. She died of multiple organ failure. The decision was made to turn off the machines after 7+ weeks in ICU.  I cannot describe the roller coaster that our family has been thru, and continues to go thru. I can however describe the unfailing love of our Savior, and the unconditional support of our family. Despite our heartache and hardships, we have been blessed beyond our wildest dreams. There are still days that I am angry, hurt and wave my fists at God. But I also have come to realize that none of us are promised a tomorrow, and today is way to precious to waste on frivolous emotions. I look at my daughters life, and I see the epidemy of Gods Love…..

and that gets me thru each day.

familyphoto1