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Eliana’s Journey: Newborn at OhioHealth Doctors Hospital Battling "Trisomy 18" Gains Worldwide Attention

By Jeff Valin, WBNS 10TV Anchor/Reporter

ORIENT, Ohio - Naomi and Matthew Coy of Orient know they’re in a race against time.  Their daughter Eliana was born December 5th, nearly two months premature and weighing just two pounds, six ounces.

"All the doctors have said she probably won't make it past a couple weeks," Naomi told 10TV Wednesday at OhioHealth Doctors Hospital in west Columbus.

The couple say they were first alerted during Naomi’s second trimester of pregnancy, that their daughter – if she made it to birth – would face the long odds of “Edwards Syndrome,” also called “Trisomy 18” because it entails an extra (third) 18th chromosome.  It’s a rare condition, from which survival is also rare; the Coys were told 90-95% of children born with it do not survive.

“They’re deemed ‘not compatible with life,’ said Matthew.  “Yeah, that’s what they say, they’re ‘incompatible with life,’ his wife echoed.

But the Coys, who already have two boys and a girl, say they strongly favored letting nature decide, and doing everything they could to foster little Eliana’s chances at life.

“I’m on a lot of support groups from Trisomy 18 and other Trisomies, and I see kids on there, living and thriving,” Naomi said.

Their decisions have been difficult, but the Coys’ faith made one of the more exciting decisions parents get to make all the easier.

"We chose her name - 'Eliana' is actually Hebrew,” Naomi explained, “and it means 'My God has answered'."

By surviving even just a handful of days Eliana has beaten some odds, but the race against time is far from over.  Down to just two pounds, three ounces on the fifth day of her life, one of Eliana’s greatest immediate challenges is a hole in her heart called a ventricular septal defect (VSD).  It’s a defect that weakens her heart, but can’t be fixed by surgery until her weight can increase to about nine pounds.  As Matthew explains, it’s the ultimate catch-22.

"Her heart, because of the VSD, is not going to be able to allow her to grow big enough to get the patch in, which, her heart will fail from overworking.”

In almost the same breath, however, the Coys say Eliana has already beaten some odds by surviving five days, and by the disappearance of cysts on her brain.

“There's just tons of hope there,” Matthew said.

That hope is bolstered by prayer and support that this couple, who attend the Homeland Church in Grove City.  Naomi and Matthew started a Facebook page called “Eliana’s Journey,” that has garnered attention from literally around the world.

"My aunt called her sister in Germany,” began Matthew, “and they've got a 24-hour prayer service over there going on.  And it's like, 'For us?!'"

And while the race against time continues, Naomi and Matthew say they’re grateful for the brief time they’ve already had with little Eliana.  They remain realistic about the odds, they're holding fast to their faith that with prayer, they can re-word that "incompatible with life" prognosis.

“We think that she's compatible with love,” said Naomi.

To see Jeff Valin's story that appeared on 10TV on December 10th, please click here.

The Coys invite you to visit their daughter’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/elianasjourney.