|GILBERT, Ariz. (BP) -- Reagan Andrews wasn't supposed to survive her first week of life.
A stroke before she was a day old put her at severe risk of massive, permanent brain damage. Death was a distinct possibility. First-time parents Lori and Dean Andrews received the stunning news as a medical team rushed to save their newborn daughter's life.
"She was given truly grim odds," Lori said. "We were told at best to expect cerebral palsy, but more likely brain damage that would give her less than a 17 percent chance for a normal life."
The Andrews noticed odd movements by Reagan shortly after she was brought to them in their hospital room. Their doctor assured them it was simply reflexes.
"At 3 a.m. a nurse woke me up telling me my daughter was having seizures and they were rushing her to the NICU . Days later when Reagan was stable they told us to take her home and treat her as a normal child," Lori said.
With the prayer support of their family and church, the Andrews threw themselves into doing everything they could to stimulate Reagan's development, and God answered their prayers.
Today Reagan is a precocious first-grader who reads at a third-grade level and is working on second-grade curricula for her other schoolwork.
"The Lord had a different plan. You never know how things will work out, but she is our miracle. ... When Reagan turned 4 and had her check up with the neurologist, the doctor officially fired herself. Reagan was fine," Lori said.
Reagan is the Andrews' only child. After having difficulty with pregnancies, Reagan was an in vitro pregnancy, but without complications.
"I always wanted at least four kids," Lori said. "God knew better. We praise God every day for her and what He has done in our lives. He has given me a daughter who blesses me more than I can ever comprehend. She has always had a love of the Lord."
A seemingly unconnected series of events led Reagan to make an unusual request of her mother, at least for a 5-year-old.
"Two years ago we combined a business trip Dean made to Hawaii with a vacation," Lori recounted. "While Dean was working, Reagan and I would walk from the hotel to the beach or go to the pool. One day at the hotel pool, Reagan was playing in the water and there was a sweet Japanese woman with a young son, about 18 months. The woman spoke English and she started a conversation with Reagan as they played."
As they talked, Reagan told the woman her mother was from New Mexico.
"When I heard the woman say she went to high school in a small town in New Mexico as a foreign exchange student, I jumped in and asked her where," Lori said. "She said Aztec, my hometown. It was Ayumi. I had not seen her in 18 years. We went to high school together her senior year. We played volleyball together.
"Reagan's eyes really opened up to Japan from that moment. When we returned home we friended Ayumi on Facebook and Reagan learned everything she could about Japan."
Then came March 11, 2011, and a disastrous earthquake off Japan's coast.
"Reagan asked her dad all about the earthquake and tsunami and what was happening to the people," Lori said. "They talked about it every day for more than a week. Most of the children's shows she was watching were encouraging kids to do whatever they could to help."
Then one day Reagan told her mother she, too, wanted to help.
"I want to send them food."
"Honey, we can't send food," Lori responded. "There is no way for us to get it to the right place to make sure it is useful." Continued...