Matt and Kristin Loboda, from Tampa, Florida, and their four young children were visiting family in Phoenix, Arizona. On Dec. 29, Matt suddenly noticed that his 19- month-old daughter, Joy, was missing. She had been with them just before that.
“In my heart, I knew something was terribly wrong. So, I ran down to the Koi pond on the property. I ran around it four times looking between the shadows and fish for Joy. Momentarily I was relieved. But, I heard the Holy Spirit tell me to run to the pool,” writes Matt on his Facebook page.
When Joy disappeared, Matt hadn’t considered the possibility that she was in the fence-encircled pool. He sprinted there, and the sight he saw was enough to make any parent’s blood run cold: there was Joy’s little, lifeless body floating on top of the water. Matt leaped over the five-foot fence and dove into the water, bringing Joy out of the pool, so he and his brother-in-law could perform CPR while they were waiting for the ambulance.
“As I breathed into Joy, I prayed that my breath would be the breath of God into her,” says Matt. “In between breaths I begged for the Ruha of God to enter her. Her lips were blue, and her beautiful blue eyes were wide open. I could see her pupils shrinking at an alarming rate. Then I started to pray in between breathes in the words of Jesus, ‘Talitha Koum,’ which means ‘Little girl, I say to you, arise.’ I knew we needed a miracle because I could actually feel her slipping away.”
Sergeant Ronald Bryant, a policeman for the Phoenix Police Department, was just pulling out of the police station when he got the urgent call that a baby had fallen into a pool and was unresponsive. Racing to help Joy, he drove right up where Matt was trying to revive her. “I found Joy surrounded by frantic family and concerned workers. Dad, soaked from the cold pool, was doing a great job with CPR and mom, Kristin, was kneeling, holding Joy’s head in hands and praying like no mother ever wants to pray for their child,” Officer Bryant writes on his Facebook page.
He continues, “I scooped Joy up and ran her out to the front gate, giving her compressions and a couple of breaths as we ran out to meet Fire Paramedics who were almost on the scene. Fire immediately took over and got to work on Joy’s tiny, cold, blue, lifeless body. My heart was broken. I was convinced she had passed.”
With 19 years of service, this was not Sergeant Bryant’s first experience with infant death. Joy’s stiff body spoke volumes to him. “Everything in me said it was too late, and she was gone, but I had to try everything I could,” he said.
As the detective drove Matt and Kristin to Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Matt closed his eyes and prayed to God: “‘I know she is your daughter, but she is my daughter too. Now is not the right time.”
At the emergency room, a doctor came in and informed the Lobodas that the prognosis didn’t look good, but that Joy now had a heartbeat. Little Joy was put in a medical coma and placed on a ventilator.
By Jan. 7, she was responsive and breathing on her own.
Kristin writes, “She’s in my arms, reached for my face, and said, ‘Mamma.’ Tears are flowing, and my heart is so full. Your prayers have been our strength and brought healing to our baby.”
On Jan. 9, Joy was able to latch on and breastfeed for the first time since the accident, and though she was still experiencing pain, she was doing well enough that doctors transferred her out of pediatric intensive care. On Jan. 10, she broke out into a smile and laughed—a miracle. She is making marked improvements every day.