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12-year-olds heart stops for an hour

A year later, no one can believe Naomi is a normal girl in Romania

Twelve-year-old Naomi Felicia Maftei was running late to church school in Constanta, Romania.

Knowing that she had already missed morning worship, she rushed straight to her classroom. The teacher stopped her at the door.

“You have to go to worship,” she said.

Naomi turned around and raced to the worship hall. She could feel her heart pounding as she ran. She didn’t even think about stopping to rest. She was terribly late for worship.

At the worship hall, she stopped to look for a place to sit. At that moment, her vision became blurry. Then everything went black. A classmate caught Naomi as she slumped to the floor. Someone called the school nurse.

The next thing Naomi knew, she was lying on a bed at the nurse’s station. The nurse had been performing CPR on her.

Naomi stood up and tried to leave.

“You need to lay back down and wait for the ambulance to arrive,” the nurse said.

The nurse had called 112, the Romanian emergency hotline, while Naomi was unconscious.

Naomi lay back down, and her heart stopped.

From that point, Naomi only knows what her parents told her later.

The ambulance arrived, and two paramedics tried to restart Naomi’s heart. Eight times they gave her shocks with a defibrillator. Her heart remained still. The paramedics took turns giving CPR.

Ten minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes passed. The paramedics were exhausted. But after an hour of CPR, Naomi’s heart began to beat feebly. The heartbeat was enough for the paramedics to carry her to the ambulance and whisk her off to the hospital.

At the hospital, medical doctors inserted tubes into the girl and supplied medicine to strengthen her heart.

After a few minutes, Naomi regained consciousness and groggily tried to remove the tubes. A nurse gave her a sedative to put her into an induced coma.

The doctors had a serious talk with Father and Mother. Naomi, they said, would never recover because her heart had stopped for so long, depriving her brain of oxygen.

“If she lives, she won’t be able to talk,” a doctor said. “She won’t recognize you. She always will be connected to machines and unable to live a normal life.”

Naomi woke up after four hours. A nurse hesitantly quizzed her to test whether her brain was functioning normally.

“What is your name?” the nurse said.

“Naomi,” Naomi said.

What is the date?”

“Friday, March 3,” Naomi answered correctly.

But Naomi couldn’t understand why she was in the hospital.

“Why am I here?” she asked Mother three or four times, forgetting that Mother had just told her about the incident at school.

Many doctors crowded around Naomi’s bed to express amazement that she was awake and talking. Church members stopped by that evening to pray with her. Naomi was talkative and happy, as if nothing had happened.

After the weekend at the hospital, Naomi was airlifted by helicopter to a hospital across the country where a pediatric cardiologist could operate on her heart. The girl was nervous at first, but Mother assured her that God was near.

Ten days later, Naomi was back at school. Teachers and classmates were astounded.

Naomi had to undergo two more operations. She learned that she a rare heart condition that affects only 0.3 percent of the population. She had been active in gymnastics, ballet, and sports since she was small, and no one understood why her heart only stopped when she ran to worship. Now she is not allowed to participate in sports as her heart heals.

The experience a year ago has brought Naomi close to God.

“God is very big, and we should never give up on Him no matter what happens,” she said. “God can do anything. Now I realize what it means for God to do miracles.”