Dad's 'Ritual' With His Baby Girl Who's Battling Polio-Like Illness Melts Hearts

Opal Rose
Gretchen Trimble/Facebook

“See you later, okay?” Josh Trimble says to his daughter as he thumps his chest. Six-month-old Opal Rose looks up from her hospital bed and then, to answer her dad, uses her tiny fist to thump her chest, too.

  • It’s a goodbye ritual that was caught on video and is melting hearts everywhere because of the meaning behind it.

    In the video shared by the Oklahoma Blood Institute, Josh and Opal take turns beating on their chests in a warm farewell that holds special meaning for them.

    “This is not just a sign of me beating on my chest,” Josh told Fox13 about the father-daughter moment. “It’s a sign that you and daddy share a heartbeat.” 

    With this gesture, Josh was showing his baby girl that even when he has to leave the hospital, he is still always with her. "I was letting her know that even though we may not be there physically together, we share a heartbeat," he told Good Morning America

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  • Opal is in an Oklahoma hospital recovering from acute flaccid myelitis, which is why her starting to mimic her dad's farewell is such a big deal. 

    The rare neurological condition that Opal is battling affects nerves in the spinal cord and, among other symptoms, it can cause sudden weakness in the arms or legs. The condition is mostly seen in children and its symptoms are similar to polio.

    On the day the video was taken, Opal's parents -- who also have a 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter -- told Good Morning America they had been hoping for movement in their daughter’s arms.

  • ”That day in particular we were praying about her not only mobility but her intentionality in deciding to move a certain way, and our focus was on her arms," Josh said.

    "We had just finished some hard days of physical therapy for Opal, and her physical therapist had been trying to get her to reach out for things," Gretchen added. "We were just so encouraged because the fact that she was mimicking him told us she knew what she wanted to do and she did it.”

  • But it was only weeks ago that Opal went from a seemingly healthy baby girl to fighting this rare and devastating illness. 

    Gretchen told Fox13 about the day their world changed after getting a call from Opal’s daycare on February 26. “Immediately I knew that something was wrong,” she said. “At first we thought it was just her breathing and some of her arms, but then we realized it was also in her legs,” she said, recounting Opal’s symptoms.

    After her diagnosis, Opal spent almost seven weeks in a local hospital’s pediatric ICU. "The treatment she received was at best experimental because no one knows if it’s effective,” Gretchen told GMA. She said doctors had told her Opal is the youngest documented case of AFM.

  • Thankfully, after many treatments and therapies, Opal is doing much better.

    Her mom shared this recent update on Opal's Fight - Team Trimble, the Facebook page that lets family and friends follow the girl’s journey.

    “The past few days have such good days for Opal Rose,” she wrote. “It’s just so incredibly good to see her normal, happy self.”

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