Miracle girl stuns medical experts
In early October 2006 Avery Gerleman, aged 12, scored a goal during a soccer match in Wichita, Kansas. Then she walked to the sideline and vomited blood on the grass.
Rushed to hospital, her condition worsened as an auto-immune disorder ravaged her internal organs, leading eventually to the collapse of her kidneys. In the coming weeks her body got ever smaller and lighter; bells and buzzers on her support machines kept sounding, each alarm perhaps announcing her imminent death.
At one point nurses desperately tried to get the oxygen line to Avery to work as the girl gasped for air. It was her father who spotted that in their haste they had forgotten to plug in the machine.
Meanwhile, her parents and parish were praying for her to Fr Emil Kapaun, a Kansas priest who died in 1951 and is being considered for sainthood. From their emails the Gerlemans knew that people and prayer chains in Italy, England and all over the world were also praying for Avery.
Other parents in the intensive care unit, struggling to help keep their own children alive, were praying. Protestant players on her soccer team were joining with their Catholic teammates to say rosaries for her. Then it was discovered that five weeks after they shut down, Avery’s kidneys had begun to function once again. “This can’t be happening,” her doctor thought. “There is no case like this anywhere in the medical literature.” Finally, getting over her shock, she said to the girl’s parents, “If someone does not know God, introduce them to Avery Gerleman.” On a get-well card she wrote: “You inspire me, Avery.” For 87 days the life and death battle continued. But the doctors began to see small surprise happenings.
On 4 December, after painful physical therapy, Avery stood up, amazing the staff. When doctors scanned her lungs and kidneys, they saw what seemed impossible: no scarring and little tissue damage. And six months after walking out of hospital, Avery was playing competitive soccer again.
Three years later a Vatican official, Andrea Ambrosi, arrived in Wichita to investigate “alleged miracles” attributed to Fr Kapaun. A lawyer by training, Ambrosi had come to see if he could poke holes in the stories. But the doctors, none of them Catholic, told him they were stunned by Avery’s survival, by her lack of tissue damage, by her apparently complete recovery. They could see no scientific explanation for what happened. Avery herself thinks it was a miracle, but “it seems weird,” she says. “Why would God choose me?” Her parents have told her that perhaps her story is meant to show sceptics about God’s presence and his glory.
Now 17, with one year to go in high school, she says she wants to turn the meaning of her survival into something more tangible. She wants to become a doctor or a nurse, and spend her life helping the sick.
As Sr Breege McKenna says: miracles do happen, and to all of us. (Source: Anne Nolan-Alive