TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - Josh, Colleen and Ali cherish each and every day with four-year-old Emi.
Just seven short months ago, the family's fun came to a screeching halt. A sudden illness sent Emi into a fight for her life.
"She had a headache for four days and I knew with a four year old that something else was going on," said Colleen.
The sudden onset of headaches, combined with a fever prompted colleen to take Emi to the hospital. A doctor diagnosed her with a virus and told her to return home and allow it to run its course.
However that night, Emi's condition took a turn for the worse. She started having seizures.
"[I was] just terrified, absolutely terrified," said Colleen. "She wasn't responding, so I didn't know if we were going to make it to the hospital."
She did, but doctors had no immediate cure for Emi's mysterious virus. Within hours, she was airlifted to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo.
"She was having fevers of almost 106, her heart rate would go through the roof – and at time drop through the floor," said Colleen.
Emi's condition was very unstable.
"As a nurse I have seen this happen to adults, but never your own child," said Colleen.
A team of nurses and doctors monitored Emi's vital signs around the clock for roughly a week, but saw no positive change.
"'Is she going to survive? That was a question for the doctors every day, and they couldn't tell us," said Josh.
After running several test and scans, doctors were able to finally pinpoint a cause.
It was a painful combination of meningitis and encephalitis. Emi's brain was under attack.
"My wife and I, we never left. We couldn't leave the room. You just can't leave your daughter like that," said Josh.
As the days and hours passed, little Emi's condition drastically improved.
"One of her first things - she identified a balloon. It doesn't sound like much, but for 13 hours one day she screamed every 10 -20 seconds. When you are watching that for 13 hours, somebody identifying a balloon is a big thing," said Josh.
After two weeks at St. V's Emi was ready to go home.
"When she left the hospital she still wasn't herself. We had to help her walk. Whe wasn't talking a lot. She talks all the time. As several weeks went by we started to see the normal Emi," said Josh.
Josh and Colleen say without the care from trained staff at St. V's, their little Emi, would probably not be here today.
"I'm just glad we were there. We definitely couldn't have made it without the support from the nurses and the doctors," said Josh. "We asked if this would increase the risk of this happening again, and they said no. This was kind of a fluke thing."
Now that she has a clean bill of health, life for little Emi is back to normal.
"She is very energetic and lively and is always making everybody smile," said Colleen.
Thousands of children like Esty are treated by Children's Miracle Network hospitals around the country every day. You can help make a difference in their lives. Click here to read about more miracle children or make a donation.