Undiagnosed pre-eclampsia took Jessica on her wedding day, but her unborn daughter survived.
When I read the story of this bride in Il Messaggero, the first thing I thought was, “She is the seed of life in the arid soil of death.” Yes, because the little girl that nurse Jessica Guedes, 30 years old, was carrying in her womb was born thanks to an emergency C-section and was saved, even though her mother is no longer with us. On September 14, she collapsed just moments before walking down the aisle of a church in San Paulo, in Brazil, where she was supposed to vow her eternal love to fireman Flavio Gonçalves, 31 years old, in the presence of God. They had moved their wedding date forward due to their unexpected, but welcomed, pregnancy.
While Flavio waited in the church, his bride-to-be, Jessica, seemingly in good health, started to show the first signs of illness in the limousine that was taking her to the church. It wasn’t a panic attack, as some of her family members first thought; her symptoms, which were rapidly growing in intensity—dizziness, and pain in the back of her neck—turned out to be due to preeclampsia, a complex and dangerous syndrome that can appear during pregnancy.
The groom was alerted to his bride’s situation by a family member, and he ran out to help her. It was a tragic moment. Flavio described the situation in these words to Brazilian magazine Crescer, quoted in the Daily Mail:
“I was worried because I was waiting for her at the altar and she was taking ages to come in. A cousin of hers ran down the carpet and told me that she had passed out. I opened the car door and she was lying down but regained consciousness to talk to me. I said to her, ‘Baby, I’m here.’ She replied that everything was fine, but that she had a severe pain in the back of her neck. At that moment, I became a rescuer, as I have been for seven years with the Fire Department. I took her out of the limo, started first aid and asked for help from my firefighter friends who were there as guests.”
This video from Inside Edition tells the story and shows images of the couple:
Jessica was taken to the emergency room of the hospital, and then transferred to a private clinic. The situation was very serious: a stroke caused by preeclampsia, and internal bleeding. The doctors performed an emergency C-section to save the life of Jessica and Flavio’s little 29-week-old unborn daughter. That’s how Sophia was born. Her mother, declared brain dead, died after the operation.
She left only after having given birth to her daughter, and this calls to my mind a verse from the Gospel of John: “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” (John 12:24)
Fundraising friends, and a lullaby
The newborn girl weighed 2.05 pounds and measured 13.5 inches at birth. She is healthy, fortunately, and was taken to neonatal intensive care where she will need to remain for two or three months. Flavio’s colleagues started a fundraising campaign to cover the medical expenses incurred by the unexpected tragedy, and surprisingly, in just a few hours the campaign reached 194% of the amount sought. In the video below, the new father, mourning but also joyful for the birth of his first daughter, sings her a lullaby. It’s not just any song, but the one that was going to be played while Jessica walked up the aisle to the altar during the wedding. At one moment, little Sophia opens her eyes and reaches out towards her father.
“Sophia” means wisdom, but this little girl represents hope!
Giving life, even in death
Jessica and Flavio were a young, beautiful couple. They seemed to have a future full of promise. Instead, Jessica died a tragic death. Is it all over? I would say not. On one hand, they now have a beautiful daughter. Who knows how much more love she will bring to the world! On the other, Jessica was an organ donor, and that generous decision may give other people a new chance to live or thrive. Also, since the wedding was canceled, the family donated all the food from the banquet to children in need in a local community.
Flavio told Brazilian website Crescer, “Jessica was a very special woman, a being of light, who taught me every day how I should treat a woman, and that’s what I’m going to try to do now with our daughter, Sophia, who is a part of her that stayed.”
The day I almost died in childbirth