Girl given zero percent chance of surviving celebrates 1st birthday

Zariah Donovan (WCMH)
Zariah Donovan (WCMH)

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — For kids, birthdays are a big deal, but for Zariah Donovan’s parents, it’s their time to celebrate.

“I whole heartedly feel that we’ve had a serious of miracles,” says Zariah’s mother, Vilayvone Thipsouvan.

Zariah was born in Utah at 23 weeks, with a chronic lung disease at just over one pound. In the days the followed came pneumonia, 12 blood transfusions and open heart surgery.

Then the worst of it.

“This summer our med team came to us and told us there is a zero percent of her surviving and ever making it to her first birthday,” says her father Shawn Donovan.

But for team Z, and their prayer warriors, giving up wasn’t an option. Zariah’s parents brought her here to Columbus, to see doctors at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, where they changed her medication, her diet and adjusted her breathing on her ventilator. Shawn says that made all the difference, “He adjusted the vent settings and within an hour she started doing great.”

It wasn’t easy, but Zariah’s a fighter, and look at her now. “She’s happy and smiling and interacting,” says Vilayvone.

Zariah isn’t just surviving; she’s thriving as a happy little girl celebrating her first birthday after a year of mountains and miracles. “Just proves that miracles happen.  Just proves the power of love and prayer do work,” says Shawn.

Zariah’s doctors now say she has a 96 percent of surviving, and her father has made the move to Columbus to be by her side in the hospital. Her mother however, still travels back and forth to Utah, so she can work and keep their health insurance. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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