August 9, 2011
A teenage girl who doctors believed was going to die has been hailed a real-life miracle - after she came back to life when a priest put holy water on her head.
Child actor Lucy Hussey-Bergonzi, 13, collapsed from a brain haemorrhage just days after filming a walk-on part in 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince'.
Lucy, of Hackney, East London, was rushed to hospital and had been kept alive by life support machines for five days when her parents were told she wouldn't make it.
Her collapse was triggered by a rare condition Lucy had carried since birth called Arteriovenous malformation (AVM), a cluster of abnormal blood vessels that remain undetected until they burst.
Lucy was transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital on February 15, 2009, where she got through two operations while she was in a coma.
At her bedside Lucy's mother Denise, 41, was told by doctors it was time to say goodbye to her daughter.
As the family gathered to say prayers for Catholic Lucy, the priest prepared the holy water ready to douse Lucy's lifeless forehead.
As the water splashed on Lucy's skin the stunned family saw her arm shoot up in air.
Within 24 hours of her baptism Lucy was off the machines and showing signs of recovery as baffled doctors looked on struggling for an explanation.
Mrs Hussey-Bergonzi said: ‘Nothing could have prepared me for the day she was taken into hospital.
‘We were so scared I just wanted to pick her up and run away with her, I really thought I was having a nightmare and any minute I was going to wake up and Lucy would be fine.
‘When we got to the hospital a nurse came over and told me I had to leave her room.
‘When I said 'I'm not leaving' they told me that Lucy was in a coma and they were putting her on a life support machine.
‘I had no idea it was that serious. My world just came crashing down around me.’
Lucy had to have emergency surgery on her brain the day she was taken into Great Ormond Street hospital, two days later she had another operation.
‘It was the day after her second operation when I turned to my husband Robert and said 'we have to get her baptised' said Denise.
‘At that point I really thought she was going to die and I wanted to give her the best chance in the next life.
‘We had no idea what we were doing but the hospital were brilliant and organised the whole thing for us in two days.
‘So five days after Lucy was first taken into hospital we were by her bedside saying prayers watching her about to be baptised.
‘Then the moment the priest put holy water on Lucy's head, her arm suddenly moved up.
At first I thought she might be having a fit but within 24 hours she was taken off all the life support machines and tubes.
‘It could be she was recovering anyway, but the way it happened, even the nurses said it was a miracle.
‘When I asked the doctors why she had come back to us they said they can't explain how it happened and to this day they don't know how or why she recovered.’
Despite her incredible come back from death's door, a determined Lucy still had to learn how to talk, walk and even eat and drink again.
For nearly four months she battled her way back to health, having been moved to the children's unit at the Royal London Hospital.
Today, aged 16, Lucy is slowly rebuilding her life despite suffering with severe headaches and numbness down her right hand side.
She said: ‘I do have headaches and there are side-effects to my medication which have made me lose a lot of weight but other than that I feel fine.
‘Learning to walk and talk again must have been difficult but I don't remember much of it. I just remember my friends and family being really supportive and kind.
‘There was one day when I was asked what I wanted for lunch and I couldn't say that I wanted a Subway so I had to make a train with my hand and say 'choo choo', it was quite fun making my family guess what I meant!
‘I don't know what to make of the way I came out of the coma. I'd never heard of anything like this before.
‘The doctors were saying it was a miracle, people who have brain haemorrhages usually don't survive them.
‘I think it was a miracle, I can't think of any other explanation.'
Lucy’s mother said she was thankful for the support given by the surgeons and Lucy's teachers at Bishop Challenor Secondary, in Shadwell, London.
She said: ‘Lucy has never said to me, 'why me?' she just gets on with her life, and we have never said why us or anything like that, we are just happy she is alive.’