Years later Edmonton 'Miracle Baby' still feels stigmatized

Erika Nordby, 14, and her mother Leyla Nordby pose for a photo outside their home, in Edmonton...

Erika Nordby, 14, and her mother Leyla Nordby pose for a photo outside their home, in Edmonton Alta., on Tuesday Aug. 26, 2014. On February 23, 2001 a one year-old Erika managed to get outside undetected and froze. While clinically dead, personnel at the Stollery Children's Hospital were able to revive Erika. Erika says she is now facing bullying at school. (David Bloom/QMI Agency)

Claire Theobald, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:24 PM ET

EDMONTON -- Even for Edmonton's "Miracle Baby" -- an infant who cheated death after being found frozen in the snow in February of 2001 -- growing up comes with its share of challenges.

"She's already been through the hoops," said her mother, Leyla Nordby with tears in her eyes. "She doesn't deserve to be picked on and pushed around for the rest of her life."

It was -24C in the early hours of February 23, 2001 -- a week after the toddler's first birthday -- when Erika Nordby slipped through an unlocked door at her rented home into the night wearing only a pink t-shirt and a diaper.

Leyla woke after 3 a.m. confused as to why Erika hadn't waken her an hour earlier begging for her bottle.

After a frantic search, Leyla looked out and saw Erika, collapsed and curled into a ball.

"She was so cold," Leyla recalls, remembering screaming, "Don't let my baby die," while wrapping blankets around her frozen daughter, afraid to hold her too tightly for fear of breaking off her frozen limbs.

Paramedics and police officers flooded the scene, grabbing Erika out of her mother's arms.

Dr. Allan de Caen, a paediatric intensive care doctor at the Stollery Children's Hospital, and a team of resuscitation specialists worked on warming the toddler and restarting her heart, a faint electrical signal from Erika's heart the only sign of life left.

"Her heart was working," said de Caen. "It wasn't working normally, but it was working."

But Erika's struggle was far from over, with doctors unsure of what kind of damage the lack of oxygen had on her brain or if they would be able to save her limbs.

After being sedated for 24 hours, Erika awoke and cried for her mother.

"I've always been momma's girl," said Erika, now 14.


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