In a tender moment that made national headlines, nearly 2-year old Emma Krall received a surprise visit from one of her favorite Disney characters—Princess Rapunzel from Tangled—while recovering in a Seattle hospital from halo-spinal traction surgery in April.
Krall's Disney fascination began early for the toddler, who, unfortunately, is no stranger to hospitals. Emma has Campomelic Dysplasia, a serious, sometimes fatal condition that affects growth in various parts of the body, including the spine. She was also born at just 31 weeks and spent the first eight months of her life in a hospital.
“Now that she is almost 2-years-old, we have been in and out of the hospital,” Emma’s mother, Rachael, says. “Our days are filled with therapy, doctor's appointments, food pump schedules, suctioning, alarms, and nursing.”
Watching Disney films, especially ones with princesses, was a go-to diversion throughout Emma’s hospital visits.
The princess surprise was a special moment concocted by Emma’s doctors at Seattle Children’s Hospital, one that Rachael says they will never forget.
“Then Rapunzel actually came to visit her! Emma loved it, as Rapunzel told her stories, read to her, and had fun interacting with Emma,” Rachael details. “Then, all our doctors, nurses, and other medical teams for Emma came into her room, all wearing tiaras! It was a special and touching experience.”
It was one of the highs among other, very scary lows.
“The reality of having a medically needy child is stressful and unpredictable, and downright scary sometimes,” Rachael says.
The Kralls are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and they take comfort in knowing Heavenly Father is directing their lives.
“Faith really plays a key part in taking care of Emma,” Rachael says. “We need to have faith that she will continue to thrive, to improve. We need faith to face surgeries and the unpredictable future. Because of faith, we know that everything will be okay and that everything is supposed to happen through Heavenly Father's plan.”
And the worry and heartache allow the contrasts of joy and love to be magnified.
“But [our lives are] also filled with joy, smiles, playing, new experiences, and daily miracles—both small and large. Since we have experienced the deep lows, the pure joy we have from Emma is better than ever. She had a 10 percent chance to live, and we had countless times where she almost left us. With this spine surgery she just had, she was almost paralyzed and loosing mobility in her legs, but miraculously the nerves started working again. She is making small improvements every day. It's the small victories that we focus on. The Lord's hand has definitely blessed us with her life.”