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Special Event

Millennium 2000: Woman Miraculously Cured During Last Rites

Aired January 2, 2000 - 7:47 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Imagine you are 26 years old, happily married with a growing family, and then you fall desperately ill. Everyone prays and hopes for a miracle.

CNN's Anne McDermott takes it from there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNE MCDERMOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Take a good look at this woman. She's in a wheelchair, has five young children to take care of, and there isn't a lot of money. Not exactly what you'd call a miraculous life, huh? But some do. You see, Maria Lopez (ph) should be dead. She collapsed this spring and went into a coma. No one knew that blood vessels were bleeding into her brain.

UNIDENTIFIED PHYSICIAN: This is the tangle of blood vessels right here.

MCDERMOTT: After about a month in a coma, doctors believed nothing more could be done, and Lopez's family decided to disconnect all life support, allowing Lopez and the twins she was pregnant with to die. Father Paul Lannon (ph) was called in to administer the final rite of the Catholic church.

FATHER PAUL LANNON: As soon as I put my hand on her head, her eyes opened.

MCDERMOTT: A nurse thought it was a final involuntary movement, but not the family, who later told reporters it was a miracle.

SYLVIA HERNANDEZ, SISTER: She just opened her eyes that day and said no, like she wasn't ready to die.

MCDERMOTT: And she got better and gave birth to two healthy girls. And it's a lovely story, but a miracle? What really happened, Doctor?

UNIDENTIFIED PHYSICIAN: I don't have any better explanation than to say it was a miracle.

MCDERMOTT: Lopez also believes it was a miracle.

MARIA LOPEZ: Yes!

MCDERMOTT: And she got her miracle, she says, because she needed her little girls, and her little girls needed her.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Very much.

MCDERMOTT: And she is getting better and better. But no, she is not what she was. Her speech is hard to understand, and there is so much she still cannot do. But doctors say she could make a complete recovery.

UNIDENTIFIED PHYSICIAN: Touch my finger, and then touch your nose.

MCDERMOTT: It's hard sometimes, but she is alive. Still, why Maria Lopez? Why did she get what she calls a miracle when so many others who desperately pray for one are denied? Lopez's sister, who's been there to help Maria almost every day of her recovery, doesn't even pretend to understand.

HERNANDEZ: Only God knows why things happen.

MCDERMOTT: At the hospital, well, doctors say what happened to Maria Lopez gives all of them hope, even as it has humbled her family, who are simply glad to have her with them. After all, she was supposed to be dead.

LOPEZ: One, two, three.

UNIDENTIFIED PHYSICIAN: Oh, excellent! Look at that!

MCDERMOTT: Anne McDermott, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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