Father and 6-Month-Old Daughter Share Sweet Heartbeat Ritual as She Recovers from Rare Illness

Josh Trimble and his 6-month-old daughter Opal share a very special bond that has only strengthened since she was diagnosed with a rare illness.

Opal is hospitalized at the Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital in Bethany, Oklahoma, with acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), a rare, polio-like condition that affects a person’s nervous system and causes weakness in the arms or legs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A video shared last month on Facebook by the Oklahoma Blood Institute showed Trimble and Opal doing their goodbye ritual, with Trimble pounding on his chest and little Opal mimicking the gesture.

“That moment of me beating on my chest was actually Opal and I sharing a heartbeat,” Trimble told Good Morning America. “I was letting her know that even though we may not be there physically together, we share a heartbeat.”

Trimble and Opal, of Shawnee, Oklahoma, share the sweet gesture whenever he has to leave the hospital to care for her siblings. Trimble shares a 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter with wife Gretchen Trimble, according to GMA.

The video has been viewed more than 25,000 times.

“Just look at this sweet video of Opal Rose, a blood recipient, and her daddy,” the caption alongside the video reads. “Opal is recovering from acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), a rare illness that affects children. Dad, Josh, tells us this is his way of showing Opal he’s always with her and there for her, and that they share a hearbeat.”

Opal was diagnosed with AFM when she was 4 months old after initially being diagnosed with the flu, according to GMA. She was immobile for several weeks as she underwent treatment at a local hospital, so the gesture serves to mark the little girl’s progress.

“We had just finished some hard days of physical therapy for Opal, and her physical therapist had been trying to get her to reach out for things,” Gretchen Trimble told GMA of the day the video was taken. “We were just so encouraged because the fact that she was mimicking him told us she knew what she wanted to do and she did it.”

The family shares updates about Opal’s condition on a Facebook page titled Opal’s Fight—Team Trimble. In a recent update, Gretchen wrote that Opal is steadily improving.

“The past few days have such good days for Opal Rose,” the doting mom wrote. “It’s just so incredibly good to see her normal, happy self.”

“Less than one to two in a million children in the United States will get AFM every year,” according to the CDC. From August 2014 through August 2018, a total of 362 cases of AFM from across the U.S. have been identified by the CDC. In rare cases, AFM can result in death.

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