Humans are extremely resilient creatures and have been known to survive injuries, illnesses, and catastrophes that were previously thought to be unsurvivable.
So when doctors at a French hospital told the parents of a 1-year-old girl that their daughter would never wake up from a coma, they never gave up hope and did something drastic to prove them wrong…
Nothing To Worry About
Parents try their best to make sure their kids are healthy and well taken care of, yet kids eventually catch the occasional cold or virus. So when one Algerian couple, who had moved their family to France, noticed one of their youngest daughters was getting sick, they weren’t overly concerned.
The Common Cold
The couple assumed their 1-year-old daughter, Marwa, was just coming down with a cold. They made sure she got plenty of rest and fluids, and assumed she would get better within a few days. However, as the days passed, they started to fear it wasn’t just a cold…
Instead of getting better, Marwa’s condition kept getting worse. When it became clear Marwa’s condition wasn’t improving, her father, Mohamed Bouchenafa, and her mother decided to take her to the hospital one day in September 2016.
Fighting For Her Life
Mohamed and his wife hoped that the doctors at the hospital could figure out what was wrong with their baby girl. After she was admitted to the hospital, however, doctors discovered the 1-year-old was fighting something much worse than the common cold…
After running a variety of tests, doctors finally realized Marwa was battling an enterovirus, which is a virus that enters the body through the mouth and is absorbed through the gut. Many times, enterovirus infections only cause a mild fever and go away on their own without any lasting damage.
On the other hand, some enterovirus infections can cause serious illnesses like polio or meningitis. In Marwa’s case, her tiny body was struggling to battle a virus that caused severe neurological disorders. By this point, the doctors told Marwa’s terrified parents there was only one treatment option left…
The Only Treatment
Shortly after being admitted, doctors put Marwa in a medically induced coma in order to protect her brain while they tried to treat the disease. Medically induced comas help reduce brain swelling, which can mean the difference between life and death.
A Medically Induced Coma
While in the coma, doctors had to give Marwa various medications to control everything from her breathing to her blood pressure. Despite all the risks involved with induced comas, doctors felt it was the only way they could possibly save Marwa…
No Signs Of Improvement
However, as time went on, Marwa wasn’t showing any signs of improvement and doctors started to worry that the induced coma was going to do more harm than good. Normally, induced comas last only 1 or 2 weeks. Any longer, and neurological functions can be affected.
Not Giving Up Hope
Despite the fears the doctors who were treating Marwa had, her parents never gave up hope that their daughter was fighting off the virus and improving. Even though she hadn’t woken up, her parents clung to other signs that Marwa was still alive and was getting better…
Signs Of Life
When Mohamed and his wife spoke to their 1-year-old baby, she would occasionally react to their voice and even smile. Doctors, however, told the couple that she was most likely not reacting to their voice, but the movements were really uncontrolled reflexes.
End Of The Road
Since Marwa still had not woken up from the coma, doctors started talking about taking her off life support machines that had been keeping her alive the entire time. By that point, Marwa had been on life support and in a coma for so long that they were confident she would never wake up…
Lifelong Side Effects
The team also told Marwa’s parents that she had been in a coma for too long, and if she did wake up, she would not be the same little girl the family once knew. And if Marwa did wake up, she would likely never walk, eat, or breath on her own ever again.
Despite the doctors’ opinions, Marwa’s parents, sisters, and brothers refused to give up hope that Marwa would wake up and recover. Yet when the hospital decided to ignore their wishes and instead decided to disconnect Marwa from the life support machines, the family did something drastic…
Not Without My Marwa
Mohamed and his wife started a petition on Facebook called “Not without my Marwa” to help raise enough funds so that they could challenge the hospital’s decision in court and hopefully stop them from killing their daughter by taking her off life support.
In the petition, Marwa’s parents claimed their daughter had in fact shown improvements during her time at the La Timone Hosptial in Marseilles, but argued that the hospital, which has some of the best doctors in the region, was overwhelmed by the number of serious patients in their care…
“As a result, it is clear that La Timone hospital is facing serious budgetary problems, requiring it to work urgently and as quickly as possible in order to free up places,” the petition said. “Only Marwa gives us hope every day by getting better and better. She just needs time.”
The Court Decides
The petition received hundreds of thousands of signatures and in response, the court ruled in favor of the Bouchenafa family. Not only did it stop the hospital from taking Marwa off life support as they had scheduled, but the court ruled the hospital had to give Marwa 2 more months of care…
10 Days Later
Despite the court’s decision, doctors were determined to fight the order so that they could turn off Marwa’s respirator sooner since Marwa’s brain hadn’t responded to the induced coma as it should have. Yet 10 days after the court’s ruling, Marwa proved to everyone she was still alive.
Despite all odds, the 1-year-old managed to wake up from the coma. “When I talk to her, she hears my voice, she reacts, sometimes she smiles,” Mohamed said. And while Marwa still needs treatment, her parents explained that all her organs were functioning properly. “Her treatment continues, but we see daily progress, and it gives us great hope,” they said.