10-Yr-Old Screams for Help, Mom Finds Her on Floor Gasping for Air. Minutes Later, She Was Dead


Savannah Bates, Vanna to her family, was like many 10-year-old girls. She liked animals, jumping on her trampoline, and recording silly videos for YouTube.

She loved cuddling with her little sister, going to a nearby hot air balloon festival, and visiting both the mountains and beach. She even enjoyed cooking for her mom, Amanda, earning her the title of “little sous chef.”

Unlike many girls her age, Vanna battled severe asthma. While she had medication to help calm her breathing during attacks, it did keep her from doing the thing she loved from time to time. She would cry whenever an attack kept her from attending church on Sundays.

On April 18, 2017, Vanna screamed to her mother for help. Her mother ran into the room fearing the worst.

“I ran in there and she was having a bad attack. She has having a hard time breathing,” she remembered. She began rubbing Vanna’s back and giving her medication while the paramedics were on their way.

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Before they arrived at the home, Vanna had stopped breathing and lost consciousness. Amanda continued to hope that her daughter would wake up, but the paramedics told her that it didn’t look like that would be the case.

Amanda still persisted that the doctors do everything possible to try to bring her baby back. After a week and many tests, doctors confirmed what the paramedics had predicted: her brain had gone too long without oxygen, so she would never wake up again.

Amanda just remembers being “in a fog.” Her own mother had passed away only 10 months before, and 6 months after Savannah’s death, her son Liam was stillborn.

She recalled, “Once I lost Vanna it seemed like my grief for my mom was on the backburner. Then when I lost Liam, that cut open my grief for Vanna all over again. I was grieving two children at once.”

She pushed past her grief for her mom, Vanna, and Liam so she could continue to care for her surviving daughter, Kiki. She tried to focus on doing something positive for others.

Vanna always went out of her way to make others happy. At the playground she would run up to children who had no one to play with and invite them to join her. She also shared her snack with anyone who didn’t have one.

“She was that kind of kid that would do anything for anybody. I was proud to be her mom,” Amanda said.

Even in her death, Vanna was able to show kindness to others in need. Doctors realized that she was the perfect candidate to donate organs. They were able to use her kidneys, liver, and heart. Her parents hoped that Vanna’s organs would give the recipients a new chance of life.

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In her honor, her classmates raised money to place a bright “Buddy Bench” on the playground. If any student finds themselves without someone to play with, they just have to sit on the bench and someone will invite them to play with them. Just like Vanna would do.

With the one year anniversary of her daughter’s death, Amanda is encouraging others to perform random acts of kindness to “take a page out of Vanna’s book.”

She plans to bake cookies for hospice patients and to buy snacks for those with cancer. She is also raising money to pay overdue lunch fees at Vanna’s elementary school.

“You find some way to push through. You turn your grief into something positive for other people,” Amanda said. “Whenever my grief hits me, I try to find something positive to do. She’d want us to do that. She wouldn’t want us to be inside crying.”

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Kayla has been a staff writer for The Western Journal since 2018.
Kayla Kunkel began writing for The Western Journal in 2018.
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