After nearly a month of being in a medically induced coma, Emma Pfouts is opening her eyes, squeezing her mother’s hand and reacting to her sister’s voice.
The Ohio 16-year-old has been in the hospital since the night of her homecoming dance, when the family believe she suffered either a severe asthma attack or severe food allergy reaction. At the dance, Emma collapsed after using her asthma inhaler.
While now out of the medically induced coma, Emma remains highly sedated, and her family has been told she has a brain injury.
Still, she has definitely shown progress. “She’s had some really good days,” Christina Weigand, sitting next to Emma’s stepdad Christopher, told Fox 8 News on Nov. 12. “She’s made a lot of progress. She’s moving her hand, her arms and opening up her eyes.”
At Akron Children’s Hospital, Christina described the incredible moment her daughter squeezed her hand. “We haven’t seen her move in three weeks – and to have that experience was just amazing,” she said.
In a Facebook update on Nov. 14, Christina said her daughter is experiencing “high fevers, excessive heart rates, higher breaths, lots of secretions and lower oxygen.”
“It’s been painful to watch her go through as the doctors try to figure out her sweet spot of dosage of meds,” she wrote. Her posts about Emma are garnering hundreds of shares and comments of support and prayers for the family. The video she posted of Emma squeezing her hand has been watched over 112,000 times.
Family expecting long recovery
On the night of the homecoming dance on Oct. 19, Emma, who has allergies to chicken and egg, ate dinner at Olive Garden with a friend before heading to Norton High School in northeast Ohio.
At the dance, Emma told her friend she wasn’t feeling well and was getting hot in the warm room. As she experienced trouble breathing, Emma went to her car to retrieve and use her inhaler. She then collapsed, and an ambulance was called.
When Allergic Living spoke to the family last month, they suspected a severe allergic reaction as the cause, but were not sure what could have triggered this. However, Emma’s stepdad Christopher said that the first responders and doctors now suspect it was an asthma attack. (As both anaphylaxis and a severe asthma attack cause breathing distress, it’s not always easy to distinguish between the two.)
“When she first stopped breathing, her heart stopped as well. She has a brain injury, so that’s what makes it difficult for her,” Christopher told Fox 8 News. “It’s going to be a long recovery.”
“The community’s daughter”
The Weigands have been receiving a tremendous amount of support from the community.
People can send Emma an e-card through the hospital’s website. Her older sister Kylie has been reading the cards to her and putting them on the wall in her room.
“She’s become the community’s daughter,” Christina told Allergic Living last month. “They are rallying behind her and we need their prayers. They are the ones that got her this far.”
Emma’s school held a special “We Roar with Emma” celebration ahead of the last football game of the season on Nov. 1. Over $41,000 has been donated to the family to cover Emma’s medical expenses through a GoFundMe page.
Send an e-card to Emma and her family here
Related: Ohio Cheerleader Fights for Life After Anaphylaxis at Homecoming Dance