In January 2013, a little girl named Isabella Hope was born in Pensacola, Florida. Hope was born six weeks premature and delivered by caesarean section. She spent 23 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at a hospital in Florida, and her survival was nothing short of a miracle.
Hope’s birth mother was only eight weeks pregnant when she suffered a severe poly-substance drug overdose that nearly killed her. The doctors who treated her said that her body was deprived of oxygen for approximately four hours. The overdose combined with the lack of oxygen left Hope’s mother brain damaged and she was put on life support at a local hospital.
But immediately after the mother’s tragic incident, doctors said there was no way her baby would survive and suggested that she be taken off life support. Thankfully, the maternal grandmother was against this proposition and said that her daughter would want her child to have a chance.
After Hope was born, the mother’s family needed help with caring for both Hope and her mother. This is when a woman named Angie Odom came into the picture. Angie worked as the Founder and Director of the TLC Community Center in Elizabethton, Tennessee, and knew Hope’s birth mother through an abstinence only program she taught at a girl’s group home. At first, the mother was very involved and even developed a friendship with Angie. The Center helped her through her first pregnancy and after her son was born, they stay involved in her life.
However, after some time passed, Hope’s mother stopped coming to the program and eventually lost contact with Angie. Angie didn’t hear about Hope’s birth and her mother’s condition until she was contacted by the birth family.
Angie told LifeNews:
“It was due to our previous contact with Hope’s birth mother that her family turned to us for assistance, not only with Hope but with her birth mother as well. In February 2013, Hope’s maternal grandmother came to our Center and shared with me the story of her daughter and granddaughter and our Center began helping the family in every way we could.
After Hope was born, her birth mother was transferred to a skilled nursing home facility to be cared for. While the nursing facility was in Tennessee, it was more than 3 hours away from the family. I went to the nursing facility to see this young woman I had come to know over the years and I was appalled at what I found. The conditions in which Hope’s birth mothers were living in were deplorable. Something had to be done. I began contacting nursing facilities around Elizabethton trying to get her transferred closer to her family. I was turned down by nine different skilled nursing facilities. Desperate, I contacted Congressman Phil Roe who assisted us in getting her transferred to a medical rehabilitation facility for a full evaluation of her status. Our local emergency medical service- The Carter County Rescue Squad- assisted us by making the seven hour round trip transport for her evaluations.
Following several evaluations over the course of three weeks, doctors determined that she is in a persistent vegetative state. Not only was she brain damaged as a result of the overdose but also her brain stem was also severely damaged. It was also determined that she was blind. The doctors told me that developmentally an infant has more function than she does.
It was during this time that the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) became involved and Hope was removed from the custody of the grandmother. They wanted to place her with other family members but no one could pass the background check. Then the grandmother asked the DCS worker if they would place Hope in our care. The grandmother couldn’t care for her and asked Earl and I to raise and adopt Hope. We agreed, and our beautiful, healthy little girl has impacted so many lives with her story of survival.
Now Angie and her husband visit Hope’s mother regularly and assist with her care. Hope is almost two years old and is in very good health. This is truly miraculous –not only because of her mother’s overdose– but because of all the health complications she had afterward.
Angie concluded, “Despite infections, placenta issues, distress in the womb, her mother going through drug withdrawal, and all of the medications which were being used to treat her mother, Hope continued to fight and grow in the womb.”
As sad as Hope’s mother’s overdose was, her daughter’s survival is a testament to how hope can be born out of tragedy.
At the end of September the Odom family has a book coming out called “And Then There Was Hope.” To find out more information contact [email protected].