One Connecticut teacher went above and beyond to help a student and his family during the COVID-19 pandemic, showing what Pro-Life care looks like in the face of fear and uncertainty. Like teachers across the U.S., Luciana Lira was busy trying to continue her students’ education virtually as schools shut down. The Hartford Courant reports, in the midst of these unprecedented times, Lira received a call to help the family of one of her students in an incredible way.
Lira, who is bilingual, answered a call from the mother of her student, Junior. The mother, Zully, whose last name has been withheld for privacy reasons, said simply in Spanish, “Miss Lira? I need help.” Zully, an asylum seeker from Guatemala, was in a seemingly impossible situation. She was in the emergency room seriously ill from the coronavirus and about to deliver a vulnerable premature baby. Struggling to breathe and on the verge of being put on a ventilator, Zully could only direct Lira to call her husband, Marvin.
Although Lira did not know Marvin, she called him and learned the extent of the family’s crisis. She told the Courant, “All he could do is cry. And cry. And cry.” Zully was delivering the couple’s son five weeks early and was in serious condition. Lira explained, “He [Marvin] said, ‘I’m just terrified. I don’t know what’s going on in my life.’”
Despite the seemingly impossible odds, Zully delivered a healthy 5-pound, 12-ounce healthy baby who tested negative for COVID-19. His mother was not able to be fully present for his birth or celebrate his life; Zully gave birth while in a medically induced coma. Lira said, “She was critically ill, to the point where they thought she wasn’t going to make it.”
As he had feared, Marvin also tested positive for COVID-19, as did Zully’s other son, Junior, 7. The baby, eventually named Neysel, was ready to be released from the hospital at just five days old, much earlier than anyone anticipated. Without other family who could care for the baby while the rest of Neysel’s immediate family recovered, Marvin was in another difficult situation. Once again, the family turned to Lira, who had been in touch constantly and acted as the family’s interpreter at the hospital.
Marvin told her, “‘Mrs. Lira, I know I can’t ask you this.’” Lira explained, “I said, ‘Don’t even say it because I’m going to. You don’t even have to ask. My answer is yes.’” Arrangements were made for Lira to become Neysel’s temporary guardian, and the community rallied around her with supplies and support.
When the time came to take Neysel to his temporary home, Lira was overcome with emotion. She picked Neysel up at the hospital while Marvin looked on from a safe distance and took video. Lira said, “This father, who adores his son, who adores his son so much, can’t even go near his son. I just felt extremely depressed and sad. It’s a stranger who’s taking the baby home.”
Since then, Lira has cared for Neysel while continuing to work from home. Zully has been able to see her baby over video call after successfully coming off the ventilator. When reporters asked Lira when she is able to sleep, she only laughed, saying, “I’m getting strength from God.”
Although she had her own family and a class of elementary students to concern her, Lira did not hesitate in offering to do anything she could to help her student’s family and a vulnerable newborn. Her heroism has not gone unnoticed. Linda Darling, the principal of the elementary school where Lira teaches, said, “She was asked to care for a newborn baby during a pandemic when she herself was concerned for the welfare of her own child and family. In a split second, Ms. Lira said ‘yes,’ and totally committed her time and efforts to seeing that this baby was nurtured emotionally and cared for as one of her own.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the abortion industry has capitalized on fear and uncertainty to pressure mothers to end their baby’s lives in abortion. Zully’s incredible story of survival and Lira’s selfless action show what is possible when a community comes together for Life.
The road to recovery is far from over for baby Neysel’s family, but everyone continues to hope.