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Frantic Parents Trade Panic for Prayer

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“We woke up in the middle of the night hearing her screaming. We found her in the kitchen. She was just walking aimlessly, her eyes were wild. She had vomited in the bed and I thought maybe she just had a bad stomach virus.”

Chris and Ashlee knew something wasn’t right with their 5-year-old daughter Zoe.

“She passed out in my arms and at that point, you know, I knew something was definitely wrong,” Chris said.

They took Zoe to a 24 hour emergency clinic nearby.  Dr. Kenneth Jones knew at once they had to act quickly.

Dr. Jones said, “Nausea, vomiting and then passing out and then actually seeing Zoe unconscious, I said, ‘Something is going on brain-wise.’" 

He ordered a CAT scan, that confirmed his suspicions. Zoe had a brain hemorrhage the size of a golf ball with a brain bleed

Dr. Jones explained, “The pressure pushes brain tissue down the spinal cord, we call it herniation of brain, and that is something that uh cannot be fixed.”

“I'm freaking out,” Chris said. “It's the worst thing you could ever have happen to your kid. That is when I started coming in to extreme warfare prayer and I was just telling the Lord ‘I need you and you need to come down and touch this baby.’"

Zoe was transferred to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston where she was put into a medically induced coma.  Ashlee’s parents and Zoe’s older brother Zach arrived moments later. They prayed over Zoe before she was taken into the ICU for testing.

Chris says, “I'd definitely like to take her place at that point, you know?”

Doctors discovered Zoe had developed a tangled mass of abnormal blood vessels - known as an Arteriovenous Malformation or AVM – and it had burst. 

Dr. Jones said, “When you have increased pressure in the brain, cutting off blood flow to itself it dies.”

The bleeding stopped the next evening, but the pressure was still at critical levels. Hoping to avoid surgery, doctors decided to wait a few days to see if the pressure would go down on its own, and then treat the AVM with radiation. All her family could do was wait and pray.

Ashlee said, “We weren't 100% sure that we would leave the hospital with Zoe and if we were able to leave with her, whether she would be the same Zoe.” 

By now, Ashlee’s brother had created a Facebook page to get the word out about Zoe’s condition. Thousands posted prayers of support and encouragement for Zoe and her family.

“Because we were so tired and so uncertain,” said Ashlee, “there were times that we didn't know what to pray.  And just knowing that there were so many other people standing in the gap, and there was a sense of peace that came with that.”

Then, after two days of observation, Zoe’s brain pressure spiked, And doctors had to prep her for emergency surgery. Doctors said Zoe had a strong chance of surviving, but due to the location of the AVM, her ability to talk and reason could be severely affected.

“A Zoe that loves to sing and dance,” Ashlee said, “that cares for everyone. She's so kind and loving. Just thinking, ‘God, I don't know how I can look at a mother and daughter again if you take my daughter from me.’"

Chris adds, “I said, ‘God, if it's in your hands, I know you're going to make the call of what happens with Zoe, and there's nothing I can do about it.’  And I-I remember I just felt at peace and the tears just left and just let him do his thing.”

As Zoe was taken into surgery, friends and family gathered in the hospital’s small chapel for worship and prayer.

Ashlee said, “One of Zoe's favorite songs is ‘Thy Will Be Done’ by Hillary Scott, and I just prayed that and told the Lord, ‘This is in your hands. I don't understand it, but we give it to you, we trust you.’" 

After 5 hours of surgery, the doctors gave the news that they had successfully removed the AVM.

Chris remembers, “We just said, ‘Thank you, God.’  You know?  It was awesome.  You know, it was awesome to get that news.  We needed it.”

Again, they would have to wait. This time to see if there would be any long term affects.  Several days later, they started bringing Zoe out of her coma.

Ashlee says, “When she began to wake up I said, ‘Can I sit with her?’ and they released me to jump in the bed with her. She could feel my presence and it really seemed like a turning point for what we were going to experience in the days to come.”
A few days later…

Chris said, “Her grandma came in and she yelled ‘Mimi.’ That was the first time she had spoken. We didn't think she was ever going to talk again. So that was awesome to see.  That was God again.”

With physical therapy, Zoe began regaining her strength.  After six weeks in the hospital, she went home.

Dr. Jones said, “When this happens in a kid in particular, usually they don't make it. But with her, with a golf-sized ball bleed, I tell you, it’s just a miracle that she's here.”

Today, Zoe is still that happy, energetic, loving little girl. She and her family are grateful for the prayers that brought them through.

Chris said, “They say when two or more come together in prayer that He hears us and it's absolutely true. There's just no doubt about that she is a miracle. She's just 100% back to where she was and even better than ever.”

Zoe adds with a giggle, “Thank you for praying for me!”

Read more of Zoe's story in Ashlee's book, Zoe.

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