CARROLL COUNTY, Ohio (WEWS) -- When she was born, her parents didn’t know if she was going make it; 18 years later, she not only graduated high school, but she plans to become a doctor and do for others what doctors did for her.

High school graduation is time of celebration, and for Lilly Coy, reflection on memories she made over the years, including the day she became a miracle baby.

In November 2004, Nicki Gordon-Coy went into labor with Lilly. During delivery, they had complications that led to an emergency c-section, and from there, things only worsened.

“They got to the part where they take Lilly out, and it was like silence,” said Gordon-Coy, Lilly's mom.

Lilly was born with meconium aspiration syndrome.

“Basically, babies pass stools in utero before they're born, and they start breathing it, and then the meconium goes into their lungs, and they get really, really sick,” said Dr. Ricardo J. Rodriguez, a Neonatologist.

Her only chance at life was an hour and a half away, at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, but she couldn’t take a chopper. That's where Rodriguez came in. He usually wouldn't go on transport, but something told him to make the drive for this one. The doctor and Rainbow's critical care team took Lilly in an ambulance to Rainbow Hospital.

The drive was more than 60 miles, and they made it within 45 minutes, working on her the entire time.

“When I met her, she left a mark on me somehow. While we were in the ambulance, she had three cardiac arrests,” Ricardo said.

Once they got her to the Cleveland hospital, they were able to get the care she needed and hook her up to an ECMO machine that replaces the function of the heart and lungs. Days later, Gordon-Coy and Lilly's father Jim Coy finally got to finally meet their miracle baby.

The story was covered by News 5 at the time, and even made national headlines, airing on Good Morning America.

Eighteen years later, she's here and sharing her story with the world.

“I’ve got a nifty little scar here on my neck, and so, it's just kind of always been a part of who I am,” Lilly said.

After crossing the stage and taking her high school diploma, just when the post-ceremony celebrations began, in came the doctor that didn’t give up on her in that ambulance.

“Her mouth just dropped, and you could just like see the stars in her eyes,” said Coy.

“Oh my gosh, I didn't think that he was going to come,” said Lilly.

Over the years, they kept in touch with Ricardo, so Gordon-Coy asked if he’d surprise her daughter. For Ricardo, it wasn’t a question.

“It’s been just a fabulous ride to watch her grow and become a wonderful young woman,” Ricardo said.

To his surprise, he learned during the full-circle moment that Lilly plans to follow in his footsteps, majoring in biomedical engineering at Miami University with the hopes of becoming a doctor as well one day.

“Rick started that by saving her so that we could do this. Then now, to be able to see his work, it's a very big moment,” said Gordon-Coy.

“All I’ve ever really wanted to do was to help people. I’ve been seemingly given this gift of life, and so I need to be able to use it as to the best of my ability,” said Lilly.

Since her birth, she hasn’t had any issues with the meconium aspiration syndrome again. Ricardo said he’s so proud of her and will help in her journey in any way he can.

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