Support pours in for comatose high school cheerleader who collapsed at Homecoming dance

Elise Solé

People in 15 different countries are praying for an Ohio teen who was placed in a medically-induced coma after having an asthma attack at her high school homecoming dance.

Emma Pfouts, a popular high school cheerleader in Norton, has asthma and a chicken-and-egg allergy. The latter condition is rare, causing vomiting when the food is ingested and a rash upon physical contact. Mother Christina Boyer Weigand, tells Yahoo Lifestyle that because of both conditions, Emma has an Epi-Pen to fight anaphylaxis, an allergic reaction that restricts breathing, although she has never used it.

Sixteen-year-old Emma Pfouts was placed in a medically-induced coma after collapsing at her school's Homecoming dance in Ohio. (Photo: GoFundMe)
Sixteen-year-old Emma Pfouts was placed in a medically-induced coma after collapsing at her school's Homecoming dance in Ohio. (Photo: GoFundMe)

On October 19, before attending her Homecoming dance at Norton High School, Emma and a friend went to a restaurant, where she consumed buttered gluten-free noodles, shrimp, and a salad with oil-and-vinegar dressing, a “safe” meal that she has eaten many times before.

But one hour into the dance, Emma started feeling hot and couldn’t breathe properly. She asked the principal and a school police officer for permission to grab her inhaler from her car and was escorted outside. As Emma walked back to the school building, the officer noticed she was breathing irregularly and called 911. The principal grabbed a chair and when Emma sat down, she fell unconscious.

According to Christina, doctors suspect that Emma had an asthma attack from the hot conditions (last year, Emma left Homecoming early due to labored breathing), and an allergic reaction due to hives that appeared on her legs. “We think she made contact with someone at the dance who had just eaten chicken or eggs,” explains the mom. However, she says, doctors are placing more emphasis on the asthma attack.

Christina and Emma’s stepfather Christopher, a registered nurse, rushed to the school. In the ambulance, Emma went into cardiac arrest twice and was administered CPR. At Barberton Hospital, she was moved to Akron Children’s Hospital by its mobile unit.

Emma has been in a medically-induced coma for 14 days, initially put under because she experienced seizure-like activity. During this time, she developed a bowel obstruction and doctors have debated surgery. The family, including Emma’s sister Kylie, 25, and her twin brothers Mason and Maddox, 14, have moved into the hospital, unable to leave her side.

“Our motto is, don’t look at yesterday or tomorrow, just deal with today,” Christina tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

A friend wrote a GoFundMe to raise money for Emma’s hospital bills, which has raised almost $20,000.

“On the second day, doctors said that Emma had six to 12 hours before she would pass away,” Christina tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I asked for prayers on Facebook and Emma’s school organized a 300-person prayer group in the student parking lot. Doctors couldn’t believe how she improved afterward.”

On Friday, hundreds of students wore teal, Emma’s favorite color, and shouted, “We love you, Emma!” in a video recorded by the school.

A local clothing store printed T-shirts that read, “We Roar with Emma” that Christina has seen worn by people in the hospital. And according to Christina, people in 15 different countries have reached out with prayers for the girl.

Although she remains in a coma, on Saturday, doctors successfully positioned Emma upright in her bed. “It’s amazing how this 100-pound girl has impacted a community,” Christina tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “We feel like she is everyone’s daughter.”

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