A young Arizona mother who was shot in the head during the nation's deadliest mass shooting is preparing to leave the hospital after making a "profound" and "amazing" recovery, according to her physicians.
Jovanna Calzadillas was one of the 556 injured during the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas on Oct. 1. She was attending the concert with her husband Francisco Calzadillas, who is a Salt River police officer.
The bullet traveled through Jovanna's brain when she was shot.
Her brain injury was so critical, doctors in Las Vegas did not expect her to live and spoke with Jovanna's family about taking her off life support.
She was transported by air to Phoenix on Oct. 19, where she received medical treatment at Barrow Neurological Institute and Select Specialty Hospital.
Dr. Lindley Bliss was one of the first to meet Jovanna, whose prognosis, he said, was "considered pretty grim." At that point, Jovanna was unable to breathe on her own.
Nobody knew what the future would hold.
"It was unclear if she would recover," Blis said.
Even though I will not be the same old Jovanna, I will come back stronger.
"The hardest part for us was the unknown," Jovanna's husband said at a news conference on the eve of her release from the hospital. "We as a family, we left in God's hands and here she is."
"Yeah," Jovanna agreed.
Bliss said Jovanna's family and their unwavering support were integral to her recovery.
"Their support and her hard work were just something that's truly memorable. Her progress from the day I first met her [on Oct. 19] is nothing short of miraculous," he said.
"They have been by her side every step of the way and are always willing to do anything that needs to be done to help her improve," agreed Dr. Christina Kwasnica, who has headed up Jovanna's rehabilitation.
Jovanna is one of the first critically injured victims from the tragedy to both make and discuss her recovery publicly.
She said her children and her family inspire her.
"I will not quit on them and I will not quit on myself," she said. "I feel strong and positive, plus I get to boss my husband around."
"She has been a go-getter … really has worked hard at everything we've given her," Kwanisca said. "We've been excited to watch her progress."
That progress is a testament to Jovanna's determination.
"The mortality of gunshot wounds to the head is about 50 percent," Kwasnica said. "They're some of the most challenging brain injury patients we take care of."
"Even though I will not be the same old Jovanna, I will come back stronger," Jovanna said. "And I got one last thing to say. Sí se puede."
That means, "Yes, I can."
"I want to let others know not to live their lives in fear," Jovanna said in a news release from the hospital. "I am not going to live my life in fear because of what happened to me. Life is too short. We cannot let them win. And, I want people to know that miracles do happen."
Once she's back home, Jovanna will start outpatient rehab.
"If she thought this was hard, we're going to make it doubly hard on her," Kwasnica said with a smile at Jovanna. "But that OK but it's the hard work that gets you to where you want to be and I know she can do it."
I will not quit on myself. ... I feel strong and positive.
Francisco spoke with Arizona's Family in December on her continuing recovery.
"It's not that the doctors were wrong, it's just Jovanna's strong and proved them wrong," said Francisco about his wife. "She's starting to talk a little bit and say words and she'll reach out for your hand and she'll even kiss when I ask for a kiss so we have something to work with."
Francisco said the doctors had started talking about donating her organs when things were at their worst.
"A few weeks after the shooting, Jovanna was flown to a neurological rehab facility," said Francisco. "She had been in a coma but then [in November], she started opening her eyes and on Thanksgiving, she laughed."
Francisco said their kids, 11 and 3 years old, are her motivation. He added that every night he prays for those who lost family members or friends in that massacre.