There are little memories that I cherish with Gabi: listening to him sing “I love you” in English as he is transfixed upon the little screen playing lullabies on repeat; him smiling as he captured little bubbles floating in the air; Gabi acting as doctor; and simply holding him.
Over the last few weeks, his oxygen saturations have been fluctuating. It seemed like every time we saw Gabi, despite him sometimes smiling, his oxygen saturation levels kept decreasing and his oxygen support levels kept increasing. His cheeks are rosy not from joy, but from the contract friction of having the oxygen nasal cannula strapped tightly to his face. His heart is complex, and the sum of his diagnoses together are puzzling.
His father, always at Gabi’s side, cares for Gabi with utmost love. He prays diligently for Gabi, with his rosary in his hand. Gabriel’s father was at his side today, in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit, hoping that Gabi would respond when he called his name. Gabi was on high frequency oscillation ventilation, a form of mechanical ventilation that helps keep the lungs open and promotes the diffusion of gases by vibrating the air. This also means that Gabi was on sedation medications, and was therefore not responsive to his father’s voice. It was evident how hard Gabi’s body was fighting, his heart visibly beating hard and fast on the right side of his body (Gabi has dextrocardia, where his heart is on the right side rather than the typical left). Gabi’s father stroked Gabi’s soft curls. His eyes were reddened and distressed from the countless tears shed for Gabi.
After his father stepped out of the room for a brief moment, I stood there praying for Gabi and stroking his swollen arms. I whispered to Gabi, “Your father loves you so much, more than you could possibly know.” Later, my eyes were fixed on the vital signs monitor, and his heart rate started decreasing. Thankfully there was a kind nurse present, who also saw the numbers dropping. The emergency code line to call for additional help was activated, and within seconds the healthcare team was performing compressions on Gabi’s frail body.
His father returned in the middle of this calm chaos, and tears started flowing down his worried face. Gabi’s heart rate returned to normal, but then soon after again he needed to be resuscitated again.
The doctors then decided to place him on ECMO, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. This machine helps support Gabi’s heart and lungs by helping oxygenate and pump his blood for him. The waiting for Gabi to return seemed agonizing to the father, not knowing what was going to happen. Yet he continued to pray and to give thanks, and we continued to pray for him.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Paul instructs, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” We continue to pray for peace for Gabi’s father, his lovely wife and their new daughter, Emei.
And now we continue to pray for Gabi’s life. We ask that you join us in praying as the wonderful Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit healthcare team continues to attempt to stabilize Gabi. In all circumstances we give thanks to God.