“She’s been really recovering and staying strong and I just appreciate everybody’s concern and love and support that they’ve been sending,” Xochitl Gonzalez said of her two-month-old daughter Jemma-Linda Gonzalez who was bitten by the dog of a family friend while in her backyard Monday afternoon. She said they were shocked because the dog, which has been euthanized, had been around her family before and had never been aggressive before Monday. She believes the dog was likely triggered by a loud noise.
Jemma-Linda has already has two surgeries, but Gonzalez had good news to report about her daughter. “It’s just overwhelming how strong she’s been and all the support that’s been offered and that she even made it this far,” she said, standing in front of reporters at Rady Children’s Hospital Wednesday. “When she first got here she lost so much blood and she had a blood transfusion, but now the swelling is going down, she’s opening up her eyes today, her MRI came out clear, there’s no other internal injuries that we’re aware of at this time.”
Gonzalez said Jemma-Linda is in recovery, and it doesn’t look like she’ll be having any more surgeries. “Right before I came out here she was opening her eyes and wiggling her body,” she said. Gonzalez added that Jemma-Linda is not paralyzed and she has no injuries to her pupils, although her tear duct was ripped out and doctors are going to try to reconstruct it. She also has a puncture in her brain, but Gonzalez said, “It looks like she’s young enough to where it’s going to heal, and she shouldn’t have to suffer any type of mental or physical disabilities right now at this time from what we know.” There are also no issues with her hearing, but doctors did have to fully reconstruct her nose.
Doctors told her Jemma-Linda will need plastic surgery in the future, “which was very shocking for me,” she admitted, “but I’m just trying to accept everything and move forward and be thankful that she’s alive at such a young age.”
Jemma-Linda’s injuries were life-threatening at first, Gonzalez added. “I thought my daughter was gone. I never imagined – not once – that a child could get through something like this.”
She said she’s grateful for everyone’s prayers. “I know our almighty father up above has heard her name so many times from so many people, and that’s just amazing.”
Gonzalez told reporters without everyone’s support she wouldn’t have been able to handle everything by herself. When her daughter was first bitten she said she couldn’t stop crying and kept having flashbacks of the incident, but because of all the support, she’s now able to not cry or be upset in front of Jemma-Linda. “All I tell her is Momma loves you; we’re all praying for you; you’re just the best, bravest little thing.”
At first, it looked like Jemma-Linda was in pain, but now when she sleeps Gonzalez thinks she sees a little smile, “Cause she was just learning to smile.”
At this point, Gonzalez and her family are just taking things day by day. “But for the most part, you know what, it’s just a blessing and she’s nothing but a strong, brave, amazing, miraculous little being.”