By JOHN KARLO LEGARDE
(The survivor in this story is a four-year-old girl named Kassy. Her father tells this story on how faith drew communities together to pray for a miracle to heal her from a very rare virus.)
Thirty days in the hospital, 23 of those in the intensive care unit (ICU) where my daughter Kassandra, or Kassy, was intubated for 16 days, her vital signs and tests showing serious numbers that did not only hint at – but stated – that she was slipping away.
On day 21, after the doctors gave the bleakest report on her physical condition, I made the most painful prayer in my life: I surrendered my Kassy to God. I felt as if I was literally transferring her to God’s arms from my embrace. My wife Elaine and I were letting go of our right as her parents to take care of her.
And then I felt peace. Nine days later we went home.
Kassy’s story started on July 25. We rushed her to the emergency room of St. Luke’s BGC because her oxygen level had dropped and she had been having off-and-on fever for the last three days. Several tests were made, including one on COVID, which was negative. We went home.
The next day, Kassy was having difficulty in breathing. We rushed her to the hospital again. Tests were made and it showed that she had the very rare Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) which caused severe pneumonia. Kassy needed to be on oxygen support.
Things got from bad to worst very fast from that point. The doctors transferred Kassy to the ICU the next morning.
My wife and I then started to feel fear.
Kassy’s condition continued to deteriorate. In a few days, she needed to be intubated. Her body was not reacting to the antibiotics and doctors discovered that the virus had brought along a secondary bacterial infection. A series of tests showed that the virus had damaged her lungs which led to Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). That, we were told, is the tail end of the spectrum when it comes to severe pneumonia complications, low oxygenation in the blood, and her heart showing myocarditis (inflamed) which also needed to be supported.
In simple terms, Kassy’s chance of survival was low.
Our daily visits to the ICU room were terrible moments where we listened to doctors tell us our daughter was slipping away. Elaine and I tried to be strong for each other. We found our strength in prayer. Our family and friends were by now forming groups and praying for Kassy. Even strangers were praying for her! She was unresponsive to the powerful antibiotics, her body from further deteriorated. She went into septic shock, her blood pressure dropped, and her oxygen level went so low. We were introduced to a very expensive machine that may be used to “breathe for her” should her condition worsen.
I cannot describe how my wife and I felt then, hearing that news. A doctor advised: “Pray harder, things are not looking good anymore.” We sought a second opinion from a cousin who is our pediatrician. She told us to be strong for each other because things were not going well for Kassy.
Pacing the ICU corridor, I begged God for my daughter’s life. My wife at the other end of the corridor, was also deep in prayer. We asked for a priest to administer the “Anointing of the Sick” sacrament to our daughter.
After that, my wife tried to open my mind to accept that God may have other plans for Kassy. Messages from people very close to us advised the same – try to surrender Kassy in prayer. I wasn’t convinced that I needed to do that because it was hard for me to let go.
But later that day, I realized that maybe as a father, the best care I can give to my daughter is to offer and surrender her to God. Elaine and I went to Kassy’s bedside and prayed that painful prayer a parent could make for a child – to surrender her to God’s care! The next day, Kassy’s health did not improve but it did not worsen. It plateaued for a couple of days, and started to show small improvements. Little by little, the doctors started weaning her from the ventilator machine settings to extubation. Her blood oxygen level normalized point by point. The fever went down. The infection in the blood (sepsis) regressed. X-ray results improved.
On day 16 of intubation, Kassy was extubated and placed on nasal cannula. After six days, she was taken off oxygen support and breathed on her own. She was transferred to a regular room.
The doctor who had advised us to prepare ourselves because Kassy might not make it, rejoiced at our daughter’s recovery. Another doctor told us he was surprised at the recovery and considered her a “big success story.” In the end, God’s faithfulness pulled Kassy through. God delivered on His promise to take care of us – physically, emotionally and even financially.
Four days after being transferred to a regular room, we went home with Kassy. Our daughter had bravely fought for her life. She survived! We want Kassy’s story to reach as many people so that they will believe in the power of faith, prayers, and miracles again.