A family is praying for a miracle after their daughter’s health took a turn for the worse.
Chrissy Van Der Velden, 17, is fighting to come out of a coma after her health declined rapidly from cystic fibrosis.
“She’s had three surgeries since June, so she’s maybe been home a total of four weeks,” her father, William Van Der Velden said. “Around Halloween, her health started getting worse and the doctors tried everything, then seven days ago, she went into a coma and we transferred here from Wolfson Children’s Hospital to Mayo Clinic.”
Doctors placed Chrissy Van Der Velden under sedation at Mayo so they could control her vitals and try different techniques to save her life.
“She’s had multiple surgeries and flat-lined twice,” Williams Van Der Velden said. “They told me to either keep her on life support and risk brain damage or prepare to say goodbye, but they never stopped trying they were committed to doing something to save her.”
Wednesday, as First Coast News arrived to interview the family, a miracle happened.
“She started to open her eyes, tilt her head and answer questions with nods,” he said. “I just grabbed her hand and I told her that I loved her.”
A few hours later, Chrissy Van Der Velden was able to use hand gestures to communicate with her family. Still, her road to recovery is far from over.
“She’ll have to pass brain and heart standards to be eligible for a lung transplant and right now, we still don’t know the extent of how she’ll recover and if she’ll have that opportunity,” he said. “My daughter is a trooper and the only thing I want is to have my family back together for Christmas.”
The Van Der Veldens are retired Navy veterans.
“We’ve always been able to help others but this time, we can’t even help our own daughter and we’re embarrassed to ask for help ourselves," he said.
But the family does need help. A few months ago, William Van Der Velden wife, Alaina, was hospitalized for West Nile Virus. Shortly afterward, the family returned to the hospital for Chrissy Van Der Velden's care.
“Our home is neglected and there’s so much we’re trying to do to make it safer and better for Chrissy but we can’t,” he said. “We’re down to one vehicle after our other car broke down, so it’s been difficult commuting from the hospital and still trying to take care of Chrissy, her sister and mom.”
William Van Der Velden's home needs new flooring to get rid of carpet that could worsen his daughter's condition and possible electrical work.
“Our Christmas dream would to bring Chrissy home to a decorated living room that’s safe, where she can relax and enjoy the family,” Williams said. “She would love a new bed because hers is older and uncomfortable, but we’re doing the best we can.”
If Secret Santa is reading this article, Chrissy would love a Wacom Tablet where she can draw and do schoolwork. To help the family, click here.