ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic have brought many Stateline families closer together. But for one local aunt and her niece, the last year has been especially challenging.
For many, the pandemic has been a time people want to forget. One local family is ready to put these last seven months behind them too, but for quite a different reason.
As a little girl, Nautica Horton was diagnosed with asthma. Last September, she was visiting extended family when her great-aunt Toni Thomas received a phone call no one ever wants to answer.
“Nautica had suffered a severe Asthma attack. I received a call that she had passed out and that she had lost oxygen to her brain. I immediately jumped in the car, as is, hit the highway and went straight to Indianapolis where she had been life-lined to from Westfield,” said Thomas.
12-year-old Nautica was in a medically induced coma for 19 days. When they brought her out of it, doctors were skeptical about her recovery.
“They didn’t think that she was going to make it, they didn’t think that she was gonna’ have any reflex. They basically told us we needed to start preparing our family and bringing our, having our family come to Indiana. They told us that if she did make it, she would be in a vegetative state,” described Thomas.
Nautica ended up spending time at three different hospitals and undergoing seven months of speech and occupational therapy. Finally, on Saturday her great-grandmother Donna Thomas held a ‘Welcome Home’ drive-thru parade to give her the praise she undoubtedly deserves.
“Her being, you know just being home and the interaction with her family how amazing it was. It’s just been wonderful. It’s been magnificent,” added Donna Thomas.
Her family says when the weather gets nicer and more people are vaccinated, they will have a full ‘Welcome Home’ party in her backyard with a BBQ and all of her close friends and family.