Emma’s Story

Baby Emma in a Florida Gator outfit

Emma is a beautiful little girl who loves music and has a great smile. Unfortunately, the beginning of her journey was not as smooth as expected. Mrs. Ray, Emma’s mother, had a normal pregnancy without any signs of complication, until the day of the delivery. Mrs. Ray checked in to the local hospital and was placed on monitors, the doctors noticed that Emma’s heart rate was irregular. The doctors performed all the necessary steps to keep Emma and her mother safe; however, the decision was made to perform an emergency cesarean section because Emma’s vital signs kept getting worse and both Mrs. Ray and her precious daughter were in big danger.

Little Emma was born on May 17 at 11:23pm, she was not breathing and had to be resuscitated for twelve minutes. The doctors placed a breathing tube into Emma’s mouth, and she was connected to a ventilator that helped her breath. 

Emma was very sick and needed more advanced care than this hospital could offer.

Emma in the Hospital

That night, Mrs. Ray’s doctor made a phone call to UFHealth and the decision was made to transfer Emma to UFHealth to save her life. At 4 am the next morning Emma was transferred by helicopter with the help of a highly educated team of nurses and respiratory therapists under a care of Dr. Weiss.  As soon as Emma came to the intensive care unit at UFHealth, she was examined by Dr. Weiss and his team. Emma was cooled to 33.5C with a specially designed blanket, so her brain could have time to “rest and rejuvenate.” Unfortunately, Mrs. Ray had many complications after the delivery and had to spend a few days in the hospital where Emma was delivered. With the help of modern technology and face time, they were able to see each other and speak even before Mr. and Mrs Ray came to UFHealth to be with Emma.

“I felt extreme terror when I first saw Emma and a team of doctors around her bed” Mr. Ray said.  

first time holding emma

Dr. Weiss was very straightforward with the Ray family, explaining what to expect and what could happen with Emma.  He explained that Emma had only an 11% chance of survival followed by complications that could come with her diagnosis of HIE. This situation was not what the Ray family had imagined. “ I hate it!” Mr. Ray explained, “That’s not what I wanted to hear.”

Emma spent 28 days in the hospital. Her road to recovery was long and difficult. Before Emma left the hospital, Mr. and Mrs. Ray arranged to stay for the first few weeks with their parents who are medically knowledgeable and could provide much needed support. This made a transition to home easier for the new family.

When asked, Mr. Ray stated that he wouldn’t change anything about Emma’s care, he said: “She wouldn’t be her… No, I would not change anything.” The Ray family was happy with the care they all received throughout this difficult month at the hospital.“ Dr. Weiss was a realist,” said Mr. Ray “ and I did not like it then,” but now Mr. Ray understands how important it was for him to tell the ugly truth. It made their family stronger and more prepared for the struggles that they had to face. 


Emma has a long road in front of her, but with the help of her dedicated parents and medical staff, she will flourish and thrive.  With weekly doctors appointments and therapy, day-by-day she is getting stronger and healthier. Emma is a unique little girl who loves Mickey Mouse Club House and makes her parents appreciate her every day.