EXCLUSIVE: One-year-old shooting victim in Columbus makes ‘miraculous’ recovery

Updated: Jul. 29, 2020 at 6:13 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Everyone is calling her a miracle. Marriah Terrell is just a few weeks shy of her second birthday and she’s a gunshot wound survivor.

The more you dig into Marriah’s story, the more you realize how lucky she is to be alive. Doctors said a bullet entered her small body in her chest and exited her back two weeks ago today.

“My baby got two holes in her body and I have to change that every day and it’s hard to see two holes in my daughter’s body,” sad Creasia Terrell. “But it feels good to see all the love and support she got.”

Terrell almost lost her daughter Marriah July 15 when a shooting to the chest sent her in shock to Piedmont Columbus Regional Hospital. A team of healthcare professionals battled the clock to save her life.

“It’s a miracle that it did not hit the aorta because if that would have happened, she would have been dead right on the scene,” said thoracic surgeon, Dr. Daniel Gwan-Nulla. “She never would have made it to the hospital.”

Gwan-Nulla was not even supposed to be at work the day Marriah came in, but when the weather prevented staff from transferring the young girl to a larger trauma center, he stepped in saying they had to do something and they had to do it now. He and his team, who usually perform surgery on adults, headed to the operating room.

“We sometimes make light of miracles but I don’t make light of this one,” he said. “I truly believe this is God’s hand.”

“So, it’s like all the holes of the Swiss cheese lined up that day,” said Kristin Hinton, clinical manager of the pediatric emergency department. “Everybody was here where they needed to be in place to be able to save her.”

Because of Gwan-Nulla and the other talented individuals who aided in Marriah’s recovery, she’s living to see her second birthday August 17. Her mother wants to share a message with everyone who played a role in saving her daughter, from the firefighters and the doctors in Columbus, to the critical care team in Atlanta.

“I’m just blessed. I have a miracle baby and I can’t believe she’s still here,” she said. “Want to say something?” she asked her daughter, “say thank you.”

“Thank you,” Marriah said quietly.

Thanks to the team in Columbus, doctors said Marriah will have zero long-term impacts. She is moving around just like the shooting never happened.

As her second birthday quickly approaches, the firefighters and EMTs who saved her life got her a present. This amazing little girl got her very first car, a pink Jeep.

Firefighters said for Marriah to be so young and experience something like this and survive is amazing. Marriah’s mother said her family is getting so much support from the community and she wants everyone to know how grateful they are.

“Her car is better than mine,” Terrell said. “She got her first jeep so it was amazing. I wasn’t expecting this gift. He told me he had something real nice for her. It’s a lot of love and care. she has a lot of support from everybody, so it feels good.”

“I wanted to match the gift with hopefully what she had been through, so she can know we’re here for her and so she can know she’s loved and she’s cared for from now on,” said firefighter and EMT, Courtney Brown.

This isn’t the only gift. Gwan-Nulla and his wife put together a little something for the toddler too.

“I’ve started a college fund for her because I really believe she has a great future and I want to get that off to a good start,” Gwan-Nulla said.

For now, Marriah and her mother are staying in Atlanta with family while her wounds heal. But pretty soon, they will be back in Columbus where Marriah will be a miracle child ambassador for the hospital.

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