Miracle baby Liyah Garner comes home
By Steve Herring
Published in News on December 26, 2010 1:50 AM
Jaliyah Garner, 21 months, smiles in her living room. Jaliyah was injured in July when her head was run over by a car. Her family thinks it is a miracle that she is still here to see Christmas.
Jaliyah "Liyah" Garner squirms in her grandmother's arms, alternately squealing with delight as she high fives her older brother and whining with impatience when her grandmother sits down with her for too long.
Like any other 21-month-old, Liyah is a bundle of energy and curiosity and giggles as she waves to people who walk by.
But in a season of miracles, she is not only a miracle, but a wellspring of hope for others.
"She is my Christmas present if I don't get anything else. To have my baby home that is my Christmas," said her grandmother, Beverly Brooks. "We plan on celebrating and giving God thanks. We are grateful for those for their concern and care.
"The Brooks family has its miracle. Many times people have their different beliefs, but we are a Christian family. We say the purpose for the reason Jesus came and why He died, and when He was here on Earth, how He healed. Well, she is here and He is still in the healing business. People say there are no more miracles, but there are."
Just five months ago there was a question of whether Liyah would survive, much less recover, from a devastating accident that left her with traumatic head injuries.
Liyah, the daughter of DeMarcus and Remeshia Brooks Garner of Camp Jubilee at Seven Springs, was injured when she ran into the yard and into the path of the family SUV as it was being moved by her father.
She was taken first to Wayne Memorial Hospital then was airlifted to Pitt Memorial Hospital in Greenville, where the family received grim news about the extent of her injuries.
The outlook, doctors said, was not encouraging.
"Her skull was cracked in several places and part was pressing down on her brain," Mrs. Brooks said.
Mrs. Brooks said had she looked at her granddaughter's condition from a physical perspective only, she might not have held out much hope.
However, Mrs. Brooks said that even in the darkest hours following the July 21 accident that she and her family believed Liyah would recover.
"Because we are a family of strong faith we knew that medication and God would make her a miracle," she said. "But there wasn't any hope for her at that time when it happened. (The medical staff) said she would have a wasted life and the first 24 hours they were not looking for her to pull through.
"When she had been alive a few days they kind of wanted us to make a decision -- what we were going to do because they said she would not be able to function normally and all she would be able to do was just be laying there. They are themselves calling her their miracle baby."
Not only did Liyah fight to overcome the head trauma, she has suffered blood clots in both legs and there have been concerns about her blood sodium levels.
She also suffered a stroke during the accident that has left her with a drooping left eyelid. And just last month an infection led to a case of meningitis.
"She can balance herself," Mrs. Brooks said. "She can move the side that was affected. When she walks towards you, she kind of drags that leg. She can move her arm and she can move that leg. She can see out of her left eye, but the muscles are very weak because of the stroke."
Surgery should eventually correct the drooping eyelid, she said.
If there are any lingering affects, it is "so minimum," Mrs. Brooks said.
"They keep very close monitor on her, but say the more interaction she has the better," she said. "They feed her through the tube, but now she has started eating. The doctors say that once she interacts with her brothers and sisters and sees what they are doing, she would improve.
'She is aware and knows. The severity of the injury you would think that she would be more challenged, but she is not."
Liyah goes for therapy at Pitt Memorial and is seen at Goldsboro Pediatrics. Mrs. Brooks said she is not sure how long Liyah will remain in therapy.
"They are saying now that is up to Liyah," she said. "She loves for you to stand up with her. She knows when you put her coat on what you are fixing to do. She loves to dance when you sing her song to her."
"I love Liyah," Mrs. Brooks sang.
"Yes we do," chimed in big brother Illeko, 10.
"Liyah loves me," Mrs. Brooks said.
"I do, too," Illeko sang.
"Go Liyah, go Liyah," they both sang.
"That is her favorite song," Mrs. Brooks said. "She loves to be heard. She loves to try and talk. She loves to wave and give a kiss."
As if on cue, Liyah leaned toward her brother to kiss him on his check.
Illeko said he is glad to have his baby sister home, but remains firm in his commitment not to take any trips until Liyah is able to.
"It is amazing," Mrs. Brooks said. "The school took a trip and we tried to encourage him to go, but we couldn't get him to go. The day this happened to her, the last words he said to her because he was getting on the (school) bus, he turned around to her and said, 'bye Liyah' and she said, 'bye-bye.'"
Liyah has been home two weeks and is currently staying with Mrs. Brooks.
"Because of the steroids it kind of weakened her immune system, so we have to be real careful with her. They said it takes about a year for the brain to heal."
That is the reasons Liyah is staying with her grandmother for the time being until she is well enough to be around her brothers and sisters.
Liyah first came home the day before Thanksgiving.
"She came out right before Thanksgiving," Mrs. Brooks said. "The day after Thanksgiving she had an infection and it got to her brain and she came down with meningitis. She had swelling and everything. The day after Thanksgiving is when she had the infection. There was a hole somewhere they were not aware of that sent the infection straight to her brain.
"What was so amazing when she went to Wayne Memorial, the Pitt (staff) is so fond of her they sent their own ambulance to get her. They didn't want anybody else working with her but them."
At about that same time Liyah, had pulled the (feeding) tube out of her stomach.
"When they got ready to put it (back) in one of the nurses who had her when she was in intensive care, she broke down crying and she told them, 'you don't understand I was here when this baby came in and to see the miracle that has happened,'" Mrs. Brooks said. "Even the doctors who had given up hope on her before she left (the first time) they said, 'the only thing we can say is miracle.'"
When Liyah went into hospital this last time they had to put a tube in her shoulder since the staff could not find a good vein to use for an IV.
"They had carried her down for surgery and while she was waiting her mother asked her, 'are you OK Liyah?' She said "unhuh unhuh,'" Mrs. Brooks said.
Liyah shook her head vigorously up and down when her grandmother asked her if she was OK.
"This is my miracle. I mean my miracle," Mrs. Brooks said. "You know what other people have told me when you ran the article in the paper the last time they said they were so encouraged and when they saw that they said they just cried.
"They said that it was to be known that this miracle survived. She has given other people hope. They say when they see this we don't doubt there is hope for all."