Meet Bubbles

Emily Kungli, Age 13, from Richfield, OH

Just 3 years ago, Emily Kungli was fighting for her life in Akron Children’s Hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit.

A seemingly harmless mosquito bite turned into a scary case of encephalitis. After headaches, high fever and confusion led to seizures, Emily was placed in a medically induced coma for 12 days.

“Nothing is harder than seeing your active, vibrant child like that. We lost her for 12 days,” said Gretchen Naumoff, Emily’s mother.

Doctors told her family members that when their little girl did wake up, she might never be the same, that she could have the mental capacity of a 2 year old.

Miraculously, Emily woke up … and was fine.

“I had my Emily back,” Gretchen said. “No amount of money I could give the team in the PICU could be enough.”

When she finally recovered, Emily was surprised by the number of people who had bonded with her during her care. Dr. Michael Forbes, Emily’s critical care physician, was one of the first strangers to greet her when she came out of the coma saying, “I know you don’t know who I am, but I need to hug you.”

Gretchen established a race, Emily’s Sparkle Sprint, to thank the doctors and nurses who treated Emily. In 2014, the event had 250 participants and raised nearly $17,000.

Emily continues to be in great health to this day, and you would never know that she was fighting for her life just 3 years ago.

“She is amazing,” said Gretchen, who describes Emily as “spunky, sassy and kind.”

Emily will start 8th grade in the fall at Revere Middle School. She and her family continue to enjoy giving back to Akron Children’s Hospital by organizing fundraisers for the PICU. They recently transitioned the annual Emily’s Sparkle Sprint race to Sparkle n’ Sip – a wine tasting event.

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