Gemma Botelho, 4, from Miami, Florida, was on life support just days before Christmas -- until a miracle happened.
Signs of the flu led her parents to rush Gemma to hospital, where she went into cardiac arrest and was subsequently placed on life support, CNN reports. It turned out that the flu virus had started attacking her heart muscle, which caused the heart attack.
Doctors couldn't get Gemma’s heart to beat after 45 minutes of CPR.
After being put on life support, Gemma was transferred to the All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, to await a possible heart transplant.
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Scared for their daughter’s life, her father, Alex Botelho, and mother, Lejla Szabo, asked for prayers from around the world during Sunday Mass on Dec. 20.
Szabo, who is from Hungary, and Alex, who is from Brazil, asked friends to say prayers for Gemma at Mass in their home countries as well as in Argentina, Italy, Miami and Boston.
Their prayers were answered later on Dec. 20 when her heart started beating again.
"It's beyond belief," Alex told CNN. "Everyone here at the hospital -- their spirits are lifted. They said they live for moments like this because the odds were 99 percent against her."
Gemma is likely to make a full recovery and her parents told CNN it was a Christmas miracle. She is now breathing on her own and can speak to her parents after having woken up from an induced coma.
Her recovery confounded the medical staff.
“Sometimes we don't understand everything that happens in medicine," Dr. Jeffrey Jacobs of All Children's Hospital said. "A month from now this is going to be a little bump in the road for her life and she's going to be back to doing the things she's always done.”
Alex and Szabo learned a valuable lesson from the traumatic experience: Get your child vaccinated for the flu.
“I really thought it was the end,” Alex said.
"I thought the flu -- you have a cough and cold and you stay home for two days," Szabo added. "It didn't cross my mind it could lead to something this serious."