Grateful Patient Campaign: The Gibbons Family Story

Client: Florida Hospital Foundation
Service: Copywriting for Trifold Brochure
Campaign: “Generosity Heals”
Desc: Patient Testimony
Project Overview: Project started with me interviewing the family one-on-one and asking them questions that I developed to create their story. From there, I listened to the audio file of the interview to draft the text in support of Florida Hospital Foundation’s campaign entitled: Grateful Patients.

“My heart goes out to those who are suffering from any illness, but I highly encourage you to never give up. Trust that your time of healing will come.” If anyone is able to passionately convey these words, it’s Ivana Gibbons – wife and mother of what many refer to as “the miracle family”. Their true and inspiring story recounts the pain and heartache of several life-threatening medical challenges and describes the wondrous triumphs and victories they encountered at Florida Hospital.

It all started with Gabriella, the oldest child, who was born via emergency c-section 14 weeks premature. New dad Michael Gibbons was faced with every new parent’s worst fears. “I had been conditioned by movies to believe that the doctor’s delivery of news of a recent birth was always a joyous occasion. I will never forget the first words the neonatologist told me – ‘your daughter has a 50% chance of survival and she weighs only 1 pound 10 ounces’.” Gabriella was placed in the level III NICU at Florida Hospital, where she stayed for 3 months. The doctors, nurses and clinical staff became like a second family. Their trust in the medical team and strong faith carried them through and their prayers were answered with Gabriella finally coming home.

Several years later, Gabriella became a big sister to Rafaella, another beautiful daughter who was luckily born after an uneventful pregnancy. When news of a third pregnancy revealed a son would soon join the family, the Gibbons were ecstatic. But the excitement would soon end when Elijah, the youngest child, was diagnosed with a large tumor at 17 weeks gestation. “Our Florida Hospital perinatologist told us to ‘keep praying whatever you are praying’ and that’s exactly what we did”, commented Michael. After being given a 50% chance of survival, Elijah was born at 34 weeks with a football-sized tumor. “Right before surgery, I leaned down and felt the warm soft skin of my son’s abdomen on my lips. Then they rolled him into the operating room and I was left to pace the floor wondering whether that kiss would be our last”. Fortunately, their prayers were once again answered and that kiss turned out to be the first of many.

11 months after Elijah’s tumor was successfully removed, Ivana – who at the time was a 37-year-old healthy mother of three young children – suffered a debilitating stroke. Though she knew something was very wrong, she was surprised to hear the diagnosis. “How can I have a stroke at such a young age”, she wondered. Ivana was transferred to the neurological wing of Florida Hospital, where she had to learn basic skills like walking and eating all over again. “At the time I was not sure how, but I knew I had to come home to my children. So, I put my faith in God’s healing powers and trusted my medical team as I had done so many times before.” At the time of her discharge, her body was weak but the spirit within her was strong, and so with hard work and months of rehabilitation, she overcame yet another major obstacle.

Gabriella and Rafaella are both now honor roll students who delight in playing dress up, Elijah is an adventure seeker with a heart of gold; Ivana is engaged as a full time home maker and Michael continues to practice law as a partner at a commercial law firm. Collectively, they are grateful patients who truly understand the power of faith. For this reason, they give back to Florida Hospital in support of the organization’s mission to extend the healing ministry of Christ. “Through the transforming challenges that we experienced, we learned the meaning of faith, hope and love. We hope we can inspire others to have strength despite long medical odds.”

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