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Newborn’s Illness Shakes Parents’ Faith

Kate shared, “I got to kiss their cheeks right when they were born. They were just the cutest little peanuts.” After trying for two years and suffering through a miscarriage, Kate and Terrence finally had their family — twin girls, Violet and Torin. “I’d never experienced anything like that,” Terrence said. “I had loved my wife, my family, my parents, but I hadn’t been able to experience the love of a child that was in God’s image but had my earthly DNA. And so, it was quite an experience.”

Although 6-weeks premature and weighing just 4 pounds, the babies were healthy and soon went home. About two weeks later, they noticed Torin came down with a cold. Within hours, their three-week-old baby suddenly stopped breathing. “Her chest stopped moving and her face turned blue, and then I realized like she’s really dying here. I ran to put her on the kitchen counter and started doing CPR on Torin,” he described. “I’m calling 911, just crying to the Lord, ‘We need You right now in this moment,’” she said.

Torin started breathing just before paramedics arrived, but stopped again by the time they got her to the ER. Terrence watched helplessly as doctors struggled to save his daughter. Terrence remembered, “They’re squeezing that bag over her mouth to keep her alive. Somebody else is doing little, tiny compressions with their fingers. The pediatric ER doctor comes up to me and she says, ‘Dad, where’s Mom?’ And I said, ‘She’s at home with our other child.’ Then she says, ‘She really needs to come here soon. Because we’re losing her and I think she’s going to pass.’ I literally fell to my knees.” Kate knew something was wrong. “I just knew that this trip to the hospital might be – I might have to say goodbye. So I just – I wouldn’t accept that. And I just told the Lord, ‘I’m not going to say goodbye. God, You have to save her life.’”

Torin was put into a medically induced coma, intubated, and sent to Providence Tarzana Hospital. Doctors there said a respiratory virus was causing her airways to swell. Within days, she contracted pneumonia. Then, it got worse. “All of a sudden the milk they were giving her through her feeding tube was not digesting,” she said. Then, as Terrence remembers, “They thought her intestines were dying and they were going to have to open up her intestines and cut portions out because they’re not getting enough oxygen.”

Watching illness ravage their daughter’s tiny body, Kate and Terrence could only pray. Terrence described, “She was pale. Her body was bloated with medication. I could put my hands against the box and look in, but I couldn’t even hold her. The best gift that I could offer was prayer. I was remembering every passage where Jesus was doing the impossible – where there was a man who couldn’t walk. Nobody ever thought this guy could ever see. No one ever thought person would ever hear. No one ever thought this body would ever rise again. And so I just said, ‘Jesus, You’ve done this, You’ve done this, You’ve done this. This is just one of those. You’ve done this.’” And he wasn’t alone in those prayers, as Kate shared, “I had a very simplistic, like raw conversation with God every day. Just saying, ‘Lord, You know what’s happening. You know how to save Torin’s life. You got us to this point. I don’t believe that You had me go through this pregnancy for my baby to die.’"

Finally, the pneumonia cleared. But Torin was still rejecting food, and among a number of doctors and specialists, no one knew why. “Kate and I,” he said, “were just waiting with baited breath saying, ‘Okay, what are all of these brilliant minds going to come up with? What is going to be the solution? What is going to fix Torin?’ But all they knew was she was getting worse.” By the end of 30 days, Torin's body had deteriorated to a mere 3 pounds. Still, Kate and Terrence clung to hope. “My brain thought that I was going to lose her. But my heart and my soul wouldn’t let go,” he said. “All you have as a parent in that room is hope. That’s the only thing that kept us going was the hope that Jesus might touch her body like we’ve read in the Gospels.”

Finally, one doctor had an idea — take her off the feeding tube, and let her starve. According to Terrence, “She said, ‘Just nothing seems to be working. We have nowhere else to go. There is no more recourse. She said, ‘But I don’t think her body’s able to break down proteins. I think because she’s so small, her body isn’t ready for the world. So, we’re just going to let her body rest and see what happens.’"

That same day, doctors woke Torin from her coma. They warned Kate and Terrence to have low expectations. But the couple weren’t about to give up hope. “I was holding her little fingers,” he shared. “And she opened her eyes and looked at me and I said, ‘I love you. Hi, Torin.’ And she smiled.” Kate immediately noticed – “Her eyes still had so much light and hope in them. It was this like revelation for Terrence and I to say, ‘You know what, this is our time to kick up the prayers.’” It was then, Terrence and Kate reached out to everyone – “We were like anyone who can pray, pray. And so text chains, email chains, online, churches. There were churches all over the world that were praying for Torin,” he said.

Over the next few days, the news only got worse, as doctors expected Torin to have permanent brain damage. He described, “We had people coming in saying she’s probably going to be in a wheelchair. She’s going to need years and years of physical therapy. She might not ever be able to write.” But Terrence and Kate refused to accept those prognoses. “Every prognosis that was negative that the doctors said after they’d leave the room, I’d walk over to Torin and say, ‘I speak against that. You are going to walk, you’re going to run. You are going to write, you’re going to have beautiful handwriting,’” he said.

Suddenly, Torin Started to improve. “Her heart rate regulated. Her oxygen levels got better. Her bowels started to make sounds again,” he described. “Day by day,” Kate remembered, “the pipes and the tubes and the wires were starting to come off of her body. She got color back in her face. She was such a fighter.” And doctors were dumbfounded. “Doctor after doctor,” he recalled, “were saying, ‘Wow, that’s kind of against the laws of nature.’”

By the 5th day, the x-rays of her stomach showed her body was healing. “And they said, ‘We see blood flow to this area, we see oxygen getting to this area, we see health coming back into this area. She doesn’t need intestinal surgery’ – that was amazing! She was our snuggling newborn baby and we were starting to see signs of that again,” Kate said. For Terrence, it was a sign that prayer works. “Every specialist,” he said, “from every department came to Torin’s room. But what ended up working was nothing that they prescribed. It was, I believe, the power of God through prayer. I think that that’s the point of faith is that the impossible just might be possible. The smartest, the most talented, the most trained, the best scientific explanations we have, even though they all point the other way, I think that’s what faith is. It’s still hoping and believing that God can turn the tide, as impossible as it may seem.”

After almost 2 months in the hospital, Torin was cleared to go home. These days, she is a happy, healthy five-year-old, who shows no signs of brain damage. “I still see all the scars from all the IVs and all the PICC lines,” Terrence said. “But it just reminds me – those scars don’t bring tears to my eye anymore. They bring more hope and faith into Jesus and they make me love her and squeeze her even tighter.” Kate shared, “We tell her, ‘Torin, you’re a miracle. God saved you for a reason.’ She says, ‘Mom, I can’t wait to grow up and find out the gift and the plans that God has for me.’"

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