3-Year-Old Has Near Death Experience During Blood Transfusion

Zola began hemorrhaging at home after she had her tonsils taken out, but her parents didn't know until months later what she says happened while she was in the hospital.

When Brittani Tomic’s 3-year-old daughter Zola was hospitalized in Ohio for life-threatening internal bleeding, all Tomic was worried about was making sure she recovered.

So, months later when Zola revealed that she had what she called a meeting with God, or what some would call a near-death experience, Tomic was shocked. 

Zola, now 6, has a rare condition known as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a group of inherited disorders that affect the body’s connective tissues. At the time she was hospitalized in 2018, her parents had no idea what was going on. 

“She came in our room in the middle of the night hemorrhaging,” Tomic told Inside Edition Digital. "I knew I needed to stay calm. We knew we needed to get help. So we called 91… It was like the panic didn't set in until she was rushed back into surgery.”

Up to that point, Tomic and her husband had struggled with doctors to figure out what was going on with Zola. When Tomic was pregnant, she found out that she was considered high risk and doctors told her that a genetic test showed that Zola’s “markers were off,” she said. 

“When they did [an] ultrasound, they found the choroid plexus cyst in her brain,” Tomic said. “But since she didn't line up with the down syndrome or the trisomy 18 [markers], they just wrote it off as a fluke.”

Around six months, Tomic said she noticed Zola wasn’t progressing, and then at age 2, she began having seizures. They ruled out epilepsy and thought it might be sleep apnea, so Zola was referred to an ENT, who informed her parents her tonsils were enlarged and that could obstruct her breathing. He recommended surgery.

“We were confident. We felt like this was going to be the end of all of her seizures and the medical issues. This is going to be the surgery to fix everything,” Tomic said. 

That wasn’t the case, however. More than a week after her surgery, Zola came into her parents room bleeding from her mouth and they rushed her to the hospital. She was hemorrhaging and had to have an emergency blood transfusion. 

The measure saved her life and she was able to go home a few days later. Shortly after, doctors were able to arrive at a diagnosis for the then 3-year-old –  Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

“They bruise easy. It's a lot of pain, a lot of fatigue,” Tomic said. “What I tell people is that the condition itself is not life-threatening, but it has a lot of life-threatening complications.”

The Tomics were thankful to finally have an answer, especially after such a life-threatening incident. But they didn’t expect what came next. 

“It’s something even to this day that I still can't even comprehend,” Tomic said. “I was getting her ready and, it wasn't even like we were talking about anything God-related beforehand, we were just getting ready to go to gymnastics. And she just asked, ‘When can I see God again?’”

Tomic said she was taken aback by the comment. When the mom asked Zola when she saw God, her response was, “Oh, the night I died.”

Describing the moment to Inside Edition Digital, 6-year-old Zola said God “gave her a hug.” She also said she still talks to God a lot. 

“The thing is, she never flat-lined when she was in the hospital,” Tomic said. “So it really was just, I guess, a near-death experience she might've had, or he came to her to calm her and stay with her.”

Scientists over the years have only been able to speculate what is occurring when someone has a near-death experience. Studies have found that people have had similar experiences when they're under the influence of psychoactive substances like psilocybin, LSD and DMT. 

Dr. Jeffrey Long, founder of the Near-Death Experience Research Foundation, said the experiences include a life-threatening event, an “out of body” experience, a tunnel, a brilliant white light and an overwhelming feeling of positive emotions. 

It is not uncommon for children to describe having had them.

Tomic said the moment prompted the family to go back to church.

“I was like, ‘Oh, that's so amazing that you felt comfort, and you saw him,’” Tomic said. “And that’s when she said that it looked like a rainbow and Jesus thanked her for being his friend and for loving him. And I just can't explain it. I'm just so grateful she's still here.”

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