Samoa's Miracle Nanai dies at 10 after her brave fight touched many around globe

A little girl born with severe deformities and whose story touched many around the world more than a decade ago, has died.

Miracletina Julie Nanai, known as Baby Miracle, was not expected to survive even a few hours after she was born in Samoa on September 1, 2007.

She had a number of birth defects that saw part of her brain missing, her eyes sealed shut, a bilateral cleft palate and spina bifida.

Her story was widely publicised after her parents, Mikaele and Sefulu Nanai, went public when doctors in the island nation offered little hope of her survival.

However, Mikaele Nanai refused to believe his daughter could not be saved and started to sneak milk into the hospital room where his baby girl stayed; secretly feeding her.

They decided to name her Miracle, reflecting her miraculous survival and will to live.

Speaking to local newspaper Samoa Observer, Nanai said his daughter died peacefully on Sunday, without warning.

He reflected on the days after Miracle's birth and how hospital staff effectively waited for her to die, he said.

"I hid bottles of milk under my arms and took it in to feed her,'' he told the publication.

"I took two bottles of milk and both of them were finished. She was hungry ...''

He acknowledged that the past almost 11 years had been at times difficult; not only dealing with their daughter's medical conditions and many surgeries in America, but also the ridicule the family received from some of the public.

"It was hurtful, but I loved my daughter. I have learned through many tough times - it teaches us patience and to wait on God in everything.

"This face is what Miracle grew up with. A lot of statements have said it's a face of an animal."

Nanai said those who ridiculed his daughter failed to see that she was still a creation of God and therefore very much loved.

The family paid tribute to those who had loved their daughter unconditionally and without judgment.

They included benefactor Papali'i Carol Ah Chong, who became a second mother to Miracle and who cared for her for much of her life; as well as the head of Thorn Ministries, Kristin Taylor, who started a worldwide fundraising effort in order to get Miracle the medical help she desperately needed.

Miracle will be farewelled at a funeral service in Samoa later this week.


Photo by Kristin Taylor