An 11-year-old Lebanon girl sat with her family on their front lawn Thursday waving at the winding procession of police, fire, emergency and personal vehicles welcoming her home after 3 1/2 months in the hospital.
On Jan. 28, an unconscious Emma Palmer was rushed from the Lebanon Countryside YMCA to the Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center campus in Butler County, then flown by helicopter to the main campus in downtown Cincinnati after suffering a spontaneous brain bleed.
She collapsed on the pool deck during swim practice and was put into a medically induced coma for three weeks, underwent five surgeries and up to six therapy sessions a day to relearn how to swallow, speak and write. A piece of her skull, removed to ease pressure on her brain, was replaced at the end of April, according to her parents.
“It’s been quite a journey,” neighbor Connie Carr said before sirens alerted a crowd gathered around the Palmer’s cul-de-sac in the Countryside subdivision next to the Y.
A blanket around her shoulders and wearing a swim team winter cap, Emma, her parents, and five siblings witnessed the latest example of support from teammates, neighbors and church friends.`
“I’m grateful for it,” she said in a telephone interview before the parade.
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Blue balloons floating above mailboxes on the route leading to Emma’s home were provided by her schoolbus driver Glenn Renner. Neighbors worked for over two hours on signs decorating most of the yards along the parade route.
“It’s pretty amazing that the community would come together for such a display of support for her,” father Andy Palmer said beforehand.
While Emma was in the hospital, supporters brought them food and watched their other five children and drove family back and fourth to see her.
“They made it bearable,” Andy Palmer said.
The Palmers singled out Dr.Francesco Mangano and particularly Emma’s primary nurse, Kevin Lonneman.
“He was the only one that could get her body stable and settle her down,” mother Dana Palmer recalled. “I honestly think because of his efforts she’s alive today.”
Emma’s case got worldwide attention and prayers from supporters, some through the Emma’s Fight For Her Life Facebook page.
“There’s people following her all over the world,” Dana Palmer said. “This world isn’t as big as we think it is. We’re all connected.”
On Wednesday, Emma came home to the parade planned by swim coach Jason Roberts, but her comeback remains a work in progress.
“She’s still got some recovery to go,” Andy Palmer said.
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