2013-05-17 / Schools

Little girl is a humble hero

2nd-grader saves diabetic mom’s life afterfinding her unconscious
By Dawn Witlin


SHE’S A HERO—Tierra Linda Elementary School secondgrader Faith Corral, 8, hugs her mom, Jeannette Figueroa, during an awards ceremony on May 9 at the Camarillo school. Faith was recognized for calling 911 after her mother went into diabetic shock. 
RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers SHE’S A HERO—Tierra Linda Elementary School secondgrader Faith Corral, 8, hugs her mom, Jeannette Figueroa, during an awards ceremony on May 9 at the Camarillo school. Faith was recognized for calling 911 after her mother went into diabetic shock. RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers Faith Corral didn’t bat an eyelash as the students, parents and teachers in the crowded auditorium at Tierra Linda Elementary School watched her make her way toward the stage last week.

Although Faith’s walk to the podium was slowed by leg braces, a result of her lifelong battle with cerebral palsy, the little girl made her way without hesitation.

That ability to keep her cool, no matter the situation, enabled the 8-year-old to save her mom’s life just two months ago. The heroic act is what earned her special recognition during the May 9 ceremony at the Camarillo school.

On the evening of March 17 Faith had discovered her mother, Jeannette Figueroa, a Type 1 diabetic for nearly 29 years, lying in bed unconscious and covered in a cold sweat.

Faith, who is also a diabetic, knew to test Figueroa’s blood using an at-home glucose monitoring kit. Her mom’s blood sugar was dangerously low.

Faith thought quickly, stayed calm and gave her mom a shot of glucagon, a hormone that raises a person’s blood sugar level.

She then calmly dialed 911 and alerted the emergency operator to her mother’s condition.

Chris Valenzano, an emergency medical technician with American Medical Response, was one of the first responders to the Corral home. He said Faith’s ability to stay calm in a scary situation was remarkable.

“When we arrived, the mom had actually started to come around and was talking with us, and we were amazed because we were called out for a diabetic emergency,” Valenzano said.

“(Faith) sat there and told us everything that had happened with no hesitation. She didn’t miss a beat.”

Figueroa, too, had nothing but praise for her daughter.

“She said, ‘Mom, you just weren’t waking up and I knew,’” Figueroa said. “I’m so proud of her because she was on top of it. Swift and quick.”

It wasn’t the first time diabetes had threatened the mom’s life.

A few years ago, just before Faith entered kindergarten, Figueroa went into a diabetic coma for more than a month. She has a scar in her throat where paramedics inserted a tracheotomy tube to assist with her breathing.

“(Faith) has seen all of the things that have happened due to diabetes so many times,” Figueroa said.

“She knows exactly what could happen.”

Faith’s father, Ignacio Corral, said he often asks his daughter to watch him administer her mother’s routine shots.

“I make sure that she sees what I’m doing just in case anything would happen, because you just never know,” Corral said. “(Faith is) amazing. I didn’t think she’d pick it up so fast.”

And Figueroa said she showed her daughter how to use the emergency call feature on her iPhone just a few days before her accident.

Tierra Linda teachers wiped away tears as Faith was presented with a teddy bear donated by the Build-A-Bear Workshop along with award certificates from Ventura County Supervisor Kathy Long and American Medical Response.

The little girl’s teacher, Kelly Joseph, said the second-grader excels in reading, and her personality is friendly and outgoing.

“She’s always bubbly, cheerful and looks on the bright side of things,” Joseph said. “I think it’s great because she has so many challenges that she’s very optimistic about life.”

Chad Panke, clinical education manager with AMR and Gold Coast Ambulance, said Faith’s actions were essential to preventing a diabetic emergency.

“(Figueroa) could have gone into a coma and been hospitalized.” Panke said. “Faith is proof that if you call 911, you can truly save a life.”

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