Shelby Davion is a vivacious kindergartner at Sumrall Elementary School who loves playing with her friends and spending time with her family. She’s often seen running around her yard with her brother Jackson or talking to her neighbors. Her dad, Jamey Davion, said that she’s best described as a “spitfire.”
“God heard our prayers, our hundreds of prayers, and he healed our daughter. Our daughter is a miracle. It was terrible. There are no tears left to cry, but he was there in that room. We felt him."
In early August 2021, Shelby’s fire began to dim, however, when she developed a fever and stomach pains. Doctors initially diagnosed her with a possible urinary tract infection, but on Wednesday, August 4 her fever skyrocketed.
“I got a call from my wife (Jennifer) while I was at work at Hattiesburg Clinic,” said Jamey. “She said, ‘Shelby’s fever is 104 to 106. The thermometer is not reading right.’ I said to put her in the shower immediately I’m coming.”
Jamey was able to get an appointment at Hattiesburg’s children’s clinic that night. After running a few tests, they determined that Shelby had walking pneumonia and sent her home with antibiotics.
“We picked up the antibiotics and went to bed Wednesday night. On Thursday morning, Shelby woke up with bloodshot eyes and red, cracked lips. My wife immediately recognized that from the CDC guidance on MIS-C, Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome Children,” explained Jamey.
Shelby’s parents contacted their pediatrician, who quickly admitted them to Forrest General Hospital to start running tests. Doctors decided to test for COVID antigens, despite the fact that Shelby had had three negative COVID tests just that week. When the test came back positive for COVID antibodies, doctors were sure that Shelby had MIS-C.
“On Thursday, the doctors were looking at her and doing a great job, but from Thursday night to Friday, her level of consciousness started to decline,” said Jamey. “The doctors on the pediatric unit quickly went into action because they could tell that Shelby was rapidly declining.”
Forrest General airlifted Shelby to Batson Children’s Hospital in Jackson. Her mother was able to ride with her in the helicopter, but Jamey had to make the two-hour drive alone. He said that he spent every minute of the drive in prayer for his little girl.
“When she arrived at the hospital in Jackson, Shelby was in shock. Her heart rate was in the 170s. She was breathing 60 times a minute. Her blood pressure was 60/30. Her body was shutting down. When I say that God had his hand on Shelby and the Forrest General staff and the helicopter staff, I really mean that every minute mattered,” explained Jamey.
It took the Batson emergency room six hours to stabilize Shelby enough to move to the pediatric intensive care unit. They later told Jamey that if she had come by ambulance on that same long drive he made, then they don’t believe she would have made it.
Despite what Jamey said was amazing care, Shelby continued to decline. Her vital signs did improve, but her brain activity wasn’t rebounding.
“We’re Christians, and we had so many people praying for us,” said Jamey. “When her heart rate was in the 170s or her breathing was in the 60 respirations per minute and we knew she was close to being on a ventilator, we would send a call out to our friends and family to pray.
“Shelby was in so much pain. Even though she was unconscious, she would cry out in pain. My wife and I would lay hands on her and pray. The name we would use is Jehovah Rafa, which means healer. We would just pray over her saying, ‘Please Jesus, please Jehovah Rafa, heal our child.’ And, she would calm down. It was like he was right there with us in that room.”
The hospital brought in more teams of doctors to look at more options to explain why Shelby wasn’t waking up or getting better. They briefly intubated her to test for a possible stroke, but the tests were clear. The only explanation they could give was that she was in a comatose-like state.
“Everyday was a spiritual battle,” explained Jamey “The sun would come up, and I would wonder what are we going to battle today, blood pressure or heart rate or respiration. We would just get on our knees and pray. I lived in the chapel.
“There’s a scripture in Mark where Jesus is coming to Jairus’ daughter to heal her, and people met them on the road to tell them not to bother the master, your daughter is dead. Jesus said, ‘Your daughter is only sleeping, come with me.’ They continued on, and Jesus went up to the daughter and whispered, ‘Rise little girl, come to me.’ We would just pray that over Shelby everyday . . . ‘Rise little girl, come to me.’”
Standing behind the Davions in prayer wasn’t just their immediate family and friends. Shelby’s school and their church, Temple Baptist Hattiesburg, joined together to show support both through prayer and tangible actions like providing meals for Jennifer’s parents, who were watching their other children, Jackson (9) and Grace (20 days old).
“It was overwhelming and just uplifting,” exclaimed Jamey. “There were some tough times in that hospital when we were getting bad news, and we will never be able to repay the support everybody gave us. It carried us through those tough times.”
Word quickly spread on social media, and people the Davion’s never met wanted to know how they could help. The answer was “Purple and Pink Day '' on August 11. Friends and family encouraged people to wear her favorite colors and post pictures on Facebook with the hashtag #prayingforshleby. The hope was that the prayers and well wishes would flood the Davion's newsfeeds to remind them that they were not alone.
“I think it shows the power of social media,” said Trenidy Davis, Pastor of Strategy and Leadership Development at Temple Baptist. “The people from Jamey and Jennifer’s fellowship group really spearheaded the whole thing. They got the word out, but eventually it’s all over the Hattiesburg area with people sharing. They want to know how they can come alongside to help.”
Even though Shelby was still unconscious, her vitals eventually improved enough where she could move to a regular room. Her family and the community continued to pray both “Jehovah Rafa” and “Rise little girl, come to me” over and over.
Then later on August 11, as those pictures of pink and purple poured in across the internet, Shelby, against all odds, woke up on her own. Jamey said the first thing she did was call for her mother and father.
“The nurse looked at me and said, ‘She’s a miracle.’ I said, ‘Say it again!’” he exclaimed.
After 10 days in the hospital, Shelby came home on August 16 and is reportedly doing very well. Jamey said that she is running around the yard again with her brother and enjoying her new baby sister. He added that he still sometimes can’t believe this all happened to them, but he knows it did. He hopes that people realize how serious the situation is right now. Most of all he hopes that people know how amazing God truly is.
“God heard our prayers, our hundreds of prayers, and he healed our daughter,” said Jamey. “Our daughter is a miracle. It was terrible. There are no tears left to cry, but he was there in that room. We felt him. My greatest hope is that her story will have an impact far greater than I can imagine.”