ABC News(ST. LOUIS) — It was a heartwarming mother-daughter reunion that went viral this spring.
Zella Jackson Price overflowed with joy as she hugged her daughter Diane Gilmore, whom she hadn't seen since her birth nearly fifty years ago.
The initial awe of the reunion, however, soon turned to anger. Gilmore thought her mother abandoned her after birth. But Price pointed the finger at Homer G. Phillips Hospital, in St. Louis, Mo., where she said Gilmore was born.
Price claims that just hours after she gave birth at the hospital a nurse told her that Gilmore -- who was born prematurely and weighed only 2 pounds -- had died. Price's lawyer Al Watkins later went public with the claim that the hospital was at the center of a baby-stealing ring and that Price might not have been the only victim.
Despite records that contradict Price's claim, she said she is standing tall, and other mothers who gave birth at the hospital have newfound hope that they might too be reunited with children they thought died at birth.
Watch the full story on ABC News' 20/20, on Friday, Nov. 27, at 10 p.m. ET., and read below to see who the key figures are in this story:
Zella Jackson Price
Zella Jackson Price, 77, saw her daughter Diane Gilmore on April 9, for the first time in 49 years. A DNA test before the reunion determined that Gilmore was indeed Price's daughter.
On Nov. 25, 1965, Price, then 26, said she was only six months pregnant when she went to Homer G. Phillips Hospital to give birth. Price was a young married mom with two children.
"When she was born I was by myself, nobody was with me, no one," Price told ABC’s 20/20. "She was crying [a] little faint cry, kept hollering."
When hospital staff arrived, Price said a nurse took her newborn baby and vanished. Price said she told staff she wanted to name her daughter Diane. Hours later, Price said the nurse returned and told her Diane passed away.
Price said she believed it because five years earlier she also lost a baby boy she named Michael. She said she then went home without a death certificate.
Price went on to gain local fame with her gospel music and became widely known for her rendition of "I'm His Child." She also had two more children at Homer G. Phillips Hospital.
At the time Diane was conceived, Price said she was separated from her then-husband and became pregnant by another man, who she later married. Homer G. Phillips Hospital
Homer G. Phillips Hospital was a beacon of hope in the black community in St. Louis. The city-run facility was once considered one of the most technically-advanced hospitals in the world.
Dr. Will Ross, an associate professor at Washington University School of Medicine, who is writing a book about the iconic hospital, was floored by Price's claims.
"They were going to deliver class A care, secondary to none with high standards, the best outcomes," Ross told 20/20. "[It was] the premier training ground for African-American physicians, the pride of that community."
But funding was for the hospital was an issue, according to St. Louis Dispatch reporter Robert Patrick.
"Homer G. Phillips Hospital struggled each year for money. And I think one of the things that suffered was administration, staffing, maybe record keeping," Patrick told 20/20. "They were putting their priority on patient care and perhaps not on writing everything down."
Former Homer G. Phillips nurses, who reunited recently, are proud of their association with the hospital and said Price's story doesn't make sense.
"No nurse would come and tell someone that their baby passed. That was the doctor's role and responsibility," former nurse Xenobia Thompson told 20/20.
"When you get the right truth, you owe us an apology, because you have just degraded us," former nurse Dorothy Thornton told 20/20, referring to those leveling the new charges.
Today, the former hospital is a senior residential community. Diane Gilmore
Price's daughter Diane Gilmore was born deaf. After her birth, she was taken in by a foster family who told her she had been abandoned by her mother.
According to her birth certificate, Gilmore was not born at Homer G. Phillips Hospital but across town at St. Louis City Hospital 1, which Price denies.
Gilmore, now 50, was later raised by foster parents Muriel and John Young, who cared for her along with other foster children.
During her reunion with her mother, Gilmore told Price she forgave her for abandoning her, although she soon learned that was something her birthmother denied.
Gilmore has four children, including twin daughters Melika and Mehiska Jackson, who helped make Gilmore's reunion with her mother possible. Price is learning sign language to better communicate with Gilmore, who is deaf. Al Watkins
Price contacted St. Louis attorney Al Watkins after she reunited with her daughter.
Watkins dug deeper into Price's story and made a stunning allegation about why Price and Gilmore were separated after Gilmore's birth.
"The place to buy was Homer G. [Phillips Hospital], and babies were being sold out of the parking lot. It was pay for play, cash on delivery," Watkins told 20/20.
Watkins even launched a website to help other women who believe their babies may have been stolen at Homer G. Phillips Hospital. After the publicity of Price's story, dozens of women reached out to Watkins for help.
Watkins believes Gilmore was stolen from Price and sold into adoption, but once the adoptive parents realized Gilmore was deaf, Watkins guessed that the adoptive parents tried to return her to the hospital.
But because Price said the hospital told her Gilmore died, Watkins said, Gilmore was then put through the foster care system.
When documents that contradict these claims were found, Watkins suggested that these documents, including Gilmore's birth certificate, might have been forged. Diane Gilmore's Foster Family
Barbara Richardson's parents Muriel and John Young took Diane Gilmore in as a foster child when she was 5 months old. Barbara Richardson was 25 years old at the time.
Richardson insists fostering Gilmore was about love and not money.
"They loved me, and they treated her the same as they treated me, so it sounds like love to me," Richardson told 20/20.
According to Richardson, Gilmore was abandoned after she was born prematurely.
"When it was time to be released, no one had been to see the child, and no one came, you know," Richardson said. "She was an abandoned baby, abandoned at birth."
Wilma Jones was a family friend who lived in the neighborhood. She said Diane's foster mother was quite open about Gilmore's origins.
"[She said they got the baby] through the division of family service," Jones told 20/20. "She was told that this child had been abandoned at Homer [G.] Phillips Hospital and that the child only weighed so many grams, less than a pound and that she had been in an incubator for all that time and that they needed someone to take her."
In fact, Richardson said when Gilmore was 9 years old they went looking for her biological mother. Richardson said her mother got a phone number for a woman named Zella Mae Jackson in St. Louis and called her. Richardson's mother asked the woman if she had given birth to a baby at Homer G. Phillips Hospital in November 1965, Richardson said.
"The woman just said, 'No, I didn't have a baby.' So, I mean, what do you do at that point?" said Richardson. "As far as we were concerned, that was not the woman."
Price denies ever getting the call and records do show there was another woman in St. Louis with the same name. Richard Callahan
U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan led the investigation into Price's story.
Callahan said old records his investigators dug up didn't add up with what Price had claimed.
"That began to paint a different picture from what Zella Price was saying," Callahan told 20/20. "The records were certainly contradicting the story."
Through the investigation, Callahan was unable to find evidence of a baby-stealing conspiracy, and decades-old records even put Price at a completely different hospital from the one where she said she was told her baby died. He said the records instead suggest that Price abandoned her baby, despite Price denying she would ever intentionally leave her baby behind.
Documents from 1965 also showed that authorities reached out to Price, even visiting the home address she gave, and were told she moved and didn't leave a forwarding address. Social workers called, wrote and visited relatives, according to records, but could not reach Price. The social workers noted that Price's grandmother and uncle "are either unable or unwilling to give any information regarding Mrs. Jackson's whereabouts."
Callahan went public with his conclusion of his investigation into Price's story on Aug. 14.
"We can say with complete certainty there are no truth to these allegations and our investigation is now closed," Callahan said at a press conference.
iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(WEST POINT, N.Y.) -- What started as a lighthearted tradition meant to build camaraderie, transformed into chaos on Aug. 20 when the United States Military Academy at West Point’s annual pillow fight turned bloody, leaving 30 freshmen injured, investigators said Wednesday.
Nicknamed “plebes,” first-year students are responsible for organizing the pillow fight, held almost every year since 2001.
The list of injuries at this past gathering, included a broken nose, fractured cheek and 24 concussions.
The investigators stated in the report, that one cadet was knocked unconscious before the pillow fight ended and was treated by a certified emergency medical technician.
The unconscious student may have been the victim of what is called a “Blue Falcon” move. A maneuver where cadets are hit from behind and knocked to the ground, the investigation explained.
“Many injuries were the result of cadets having been hit by elbows or other body parts during the scuffle of the pillow fight or from simply falling or being knocked to the ground,” the report said, adding that several participants wore body armor and helmets to the fight.
But, military police say that one cadet is facing discipline after he was seen striking another with a hard object inside a pillow case. The victim of his crime did not receive medical attention at the time, the release stated.
Administrators listed on the report said, the event will no longer take place because of insufficient planning, lack of supervision from upper class men and insufficient communication by academy leaders.
Both senior military members and cadets will be punished for failing to live by the army’s values, the release said.
Courtesy Jason Henley(NEW YORK) -- In September, Jason Henley, a UPS driver, made a life-saving delivery to Greg Hall, a man he barely knew.
Hall, 31, had often signed for deliveries at a UPS store on Henley's route in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In 2014, when Henley noticed Hall's absence at the store, he asked about it. He eventually learned that Hall, a father and husband, had been diagnosed with kidney failure, was on dialysis and needed a transplant.
"Being a UPS driver gives me the opportunity to come into contact with a lot of people," Henley, 35, said. "I got to know [Greg] as an acquaintance over a month or so period. ... so when I got to know Greg and immediately heard that he was sick. ... [I thought,] 'How can I help him in that?' ... The only thing I knew was his last name and where he worked."
Henley, also a husband and father, said he got tested, found out that he was a match and decided that he was going to donate his kidney to Hall.
"I blew him off at first, thinking why would you want to give me a kidney," Hall said.
Ten weeks after surgery, both men said that they were thankful and that during the process, they'd also become pretty good friends. In fact, Hall and Henley also learned that they shared the same birthday. "I don't know how many times I've told him, 'Thank you,'" Hall said Wednesday. "It's a whole new life. ... Life is great."
Hall said, he'd recently gotten the doctor's OK to return to work and Henley said that he planned to go back to work after Christmas.
"If I was able to do this all over again, I would," Henley said. "I have been more blessed during this entire process, more than I could have imagined."
Courtesy Julian McDonald(NEW YORK) -- During her deployment in Afghanistan, U.S. military combat dog, Layka, saved many lives and now some of them are helping save hers.
Layka, a Belgian Malinois, lost one of her front legs when she was shot four times during an ambush in Afghanistan in 2013. Despite her wounds, the dog managed to save the soldiers from an attacker inside the building she was sent to clear.
Now 5 years old and adopted by her Afghanistan handler, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Julian McDonald, Layka faces the possibility of losing her remaining front paw from a bad ATV jump earlier this fall.
"It's a big injury because she only has one leg," said Rebecca Switzer of Oklahoma, who met Layka and her handler at an event more than a year ago. "She struggled along with one leg and now her other leg is in jeopardy."
Switzer and her husband have been helping Layka get the care she needs since 2014, the year they met her and raised funds to get the dog a prosthetic leg. When she was injured this year, they again jumped in and helped get her to the University of Tennessee's Veterinary Hospital, where she's being treated for her broken paw.
"We love animals and we help a lot of animals,but she's a hero, she saved our troops," Switzer told ABC News. "She didn't ask to go in, she was trained to go in. We're just enamored with her and what she has been through in her deployment."
Many of the donors for both fundraising campaigns are some of the soldiers she helped save during that ambush while in combat, Switzer said. It'll be a long road to recovery for the "hero dog."
"Before her second injury, she could still attack," Switzer said, adding that Layka will have to live a calmer life from now on. "She still has a lot of rehab to do."
Layka's injuries are not only physical, she still gets on edge when hearing loud noises.
"That for her means something else," Switzer said, comparing the sound of firecrackers to that of gunfire.
When she gets better, Layka will return to her handler. Attempts to contact the former ranger were unsuccessful, but in April he told ABC News Layka is "kind of my rock."
AlexRaths/iStock/ThinkStock(NEW YORK) -- The pharmaceutical company that came under fire for raising the price of the anti-parasite drug Daraprim says it will significantly lower the drug cost for hospitals, but not the overall list price.
Daraprim, a drug by Turing Pharmaceuticals used to treat toxoplasmosis, had a list price of $750 per dose as of October 2015 -- up from $18 per pill before Turing Pharmaceuticals bought the drug in August.
Turing CEO Martin Shkreli, under fire for jacking up the price, had said back in September that he would lower it, but did not give details at the time.
However, on Tuesday, Nancy Retzlaff, Turing's Chief Commercial Officer, pledged that no patient would be denied the drug based on their inability to pay and announced various price cuts to hospitals.
"Combined with our robust patient access programs, this is an important step in our commitment to ensure ready access to Daraprim at the lowest possible out-of-pocket cost for both hospitals and patients," Retzlaff said in a statement Tuesday. "We pledge that no patient needing Daraprim will ever be denied access."
The company has a hotline for patients who want access to the drug. More than 60 million people carry the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, however the vast majority will not require treatment because their immune systems are strong enough.
Daraprim is not the only drug available to treat toxoplasmosis and the CDC has a list of the different drugs that can be used to treat the disease.
The drug's price for hospitals will be cut by 50 percent, physicians will get sample packages for free, and the company will participate in federal and state programs where the drug will be available for as low as $1 per 100 dose bottle, Turing says. These account for approximately two-thirds of Daraprim sales, according to Turing Pharmaceuticals.
However, the list price, which affects how much the pills cost at a pharmacy, will not change. The company has not responded to repeated requests for clarification on the list price since October.
"Drug pricing is one of the most complex parts of the healthcare industry," Retzlaff said in a statement. "A drug's list price is not the primary factor in determining patient affordability and access. A reduction in Daraprim's list price would not translate into a benefit for patients."
However, the company said that with programs to help patients pay for the drug, there should be no more than $10 in out of pocket costs.
The company says they have multiple programs so that patients are not priced out of buying the drug including working with Medicaid, federal and state discount drug programs and providing the drug free to uninsured patients who are at or below 500 percent of the federal poverty level with the patient assistance program.
Karen Andersen, a senior biotech analyst at the investment research firm Morningstar, told ABC News in an earlier interview shortly after Shkreli pledged to lower the cost, that the new cost will reflect multiple factors in how the drug is made and marketed.
"Shkreli will likely consider the cost of manufacturing, the number of patients who will take the drug, and any marketing costs," Andersen said. "I would not expect the future price of Daraprim to subsidize the firm's R&D investments, particularly considering that the drug was not a product of their R&D investment. ... In this particular case, pricing is likely to become more a matter of public opinion than anything else."
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(ATLANTA) -- A rare parasitic infection called Chagas disease has been gaining headlines in recent weeks after cases of the infection were reported in at least five states, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Chagas disease, which can cause long-term cardiac damage, is mainly found in rural Central and South America, but some experts are concerned that cases are beginning to rise in southern U.S. states. Infections have been reported in Arkansas, Arizona, Massachusetts, Tennessee and Texas, according to the CDC.
The disease is caused by the Trypanosoma cruzi parasite and is spread almost exclusively through bites from the triatomine insect, also called the "kissing bug," since it usually bites around the eyes and mouth, usually when they come out to feed at night.
In rural Central and South America, the bugs are often found in the walls of homes made from mud, adobe or straw. The insect has also been found in other U.S. states but that does not necessarily mean the bugs carry the parasite, experts said.
Once in the body, the parasite can remain hidden for years, or even decades, eventually resulting in serious heart disease, including stretching of the heart muscle called cardiomyopathy or irregular heartbeat. Other early acute symptoms include fever, fatigue, body aches, headache and rash.
While the disease can lead to serious complications, the vast majority of those infected will likely not show any symptoms, according to the CDC, which estimated that 300,000 people with Chagas disease live in the United States. A spokeswoman for the CDC said the agency does not have data on how many people are infected within the U.S. versus those infected before they arrive.
Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University, said since the virus can remain in the body for decades, it's extremely difficult to tell when a person was infected and that most people in the U.S. with the disease were likely infected before arriving in the country.
"Once the bug gets into you, it goes throughout the body and sets up quiet housekeeping ... in particular in the heart," Schaffner said. "It smolders there for many years, anywhere from 20 to 30 years."
The parasite resides in the insect's intestinal tract and can enter a human bloodstream if a person scratches a bite and the parasite enters through the scratches. The disease is not spread from person to person.
In previous decades, cardiologists almost never saw the infection, Schaffner said, but anecdotally infectious disease doctors and cardiologists are encountering the rare infection more and more.
Patients in the U.S. may have been infected years before they arrived and as they age their immune system gets weaker, and they "may develop these illnesses of cardiomyopaty or arrythmia," Schaffner said, noting the patients "had parasite silently traveling with them."
While transmission in the U.S. is rare, Schaffner said that epidemiologists are on the lookout for a rise of the Trypanosoma cruzi parasite or the triatomine insect as temperatures rise due to climate change.
"That is a smoldering concern," Schaffner said. "We're concerned that the ecology will change and as we get warmer climates ... we may see some more of certain kinds of infections and this might well be one of them."
The infection can be treated with medication, but if there is tissue damage to the heart, that has to be treated with supportive therapies, he said.
IPGGutenbergUKLtd/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Thanksgiving holiday often means spending time with family, watching football or parades, and eating turkey dinner until your pants are at risk of splitting. But if you're concerned about literally busting a gut, we've compiled a few helpful tips on enjoying your Thanksgiving meal without the gluttony.
Should you eat a delicious turkey dinner with candied yams, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, gravy, bread and butter and a slice (or two) of pecan pie? Maybe not after realizing that you'll be consuming at least 1,813 calories, according to the USDA.
And that number excludes all the hors d'oeuvres and alcohol factored in. A single deviled egg can add another 77 calories in just a few quick bites and a glass of red wine means another 125 calories, based on USDA estimates.
A hearty Thanksgiving meal will likely come in at 2,092 calories, more than the 2,000 calories recommended per day for a moderately active woman between the ages of 26 and 45. For a moderately active man between the ages of 26 and 45, the recommended daily calorie allowance is 2,600.
Jessica Bennett, an registered dietitian at Vanderbilt University, said what she finds most concerning is that many people use the Thanksgiving feast as a way to kick off a holiday season of eating.
"What I see a lot is they enjoy it and make excuses all throughout the holiday and then want to start something drastic in January," said Bennett.
She said there are a few ways to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner without feeling stuffed. Bennett recommends looking at the entire buffet before going in and only picking the foods you're most excited about.
She also cautioned against waiting to eat until the big meal is served.
"I would recommend having a small to medium size breakfast and lunch and having a healthy snack and some fruit and nuts," Bennett said. "Drinking water is another trick to help."
Bennett also recommends eating slowly, which can help your body signal fullness.
"If you eat fast you’re not going to get the signal that you're full," Bennett said. "Eating with your non-dominant hand can help you slow down."
Bennett said holiday weight gain is real and that people gain on average of one to two pounds per holiday season.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The number of babies who die because of crib bumpers appears to have increased in recent years, despite warnings from pediatricians, according to a new study.
Data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission show 48 deaths attributable to the comforter-like padding from 1985-2012. If you divide that 28-year span into four equal time periods, the first three show an average of eight deaths, while the last -- 2006-2012 -- shows 23 deaths.
The danger is suffocation, and most of the deaths were determined to have been preventable had a crib bumper not been used.
Another 146 non-fatal suffocation incidents happened during the 28-year span due to crib bumpers. The average age of those who died was 4.6 months; in non-fatal incidents it was 7.4 months.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended against crib bumper use since January 2008, and safety requirements have been in place for safe bumper design and use. Even then, deaths have not decreased and bumpers remain widely available and advertised.
The study, published Tuesday in the Journal of Pediatrics, goes on to recommend that the only way to prevent suffocation and near suffocation in children is to have the CPSC ban traditional bumpers for sale in the U.S. at a national level.
Fuse/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor
There are many types of birth control pills, so how do you know if you're taking the right one for you?
While they all serve the same purpose, not all oral contraceptives are created equally. Combination pills contain both estrogen and progestin -- the same hormones your body makes, just in different amounts.
Whether you're on a generic or brand name version, you should look for two key things on the package: The dose of estrogen and the type of progestin.
To find the estrogen dose, look at the numbers. There will be a higher number, like 20, 25 or 30. I recommend trying the lowest number possible.
Next, look for the progestin. Ones starting with the letter "N" or the letter "L" have the lowest associated clotting risk.
Keep in mind that as a method of contraception, the pill has an 8 percent failure rate with typical use, so condoms are key if you don't want to get pregnant.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- An E.coli outbreak that has sickened 19 people in seven states was linked to rotisserie chicken salad from Costco, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The report from the CDC -- which says people fell ill between Oct. 6 and Nov. 3 -- says five of those who have become ill have been hospitalized. Two people have developed a type of kidney failure associated with E.coli infection, the CDC said.
Although the investigation is ongoing, 14 people purchased or ate rotisserie chicken salad from Costco in the week before illness started, according to the CDC.
The CDC also said that it is not yet known which specific ingredient in the chicken salad is linked to the illnesses.
Consumers are advised to throw out any rotisserie chicken salad purchased before Nov. 20 bearing the label "Chicken Salad made with Rotisserie Chicken" with item number 37719, according to the CDC.
Costco did not immediately return request for comment.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Two new studies are adding to a growing body of evidence that breast-feeding is both good for the baby and for the mother.
The studies, which focused on diabetes and cancer, found that women who breast-feed cut their risk of diabetes and cancer compared to women who did not breast-feed.
One study published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine studied 1,035 women who had developed gestational diabetes while pregnant. The condition is associated with an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes post pregnancy. The women in the study, however, were up to 50 percent less likely to develop diabetes later on if they breast-fed their child.
The study's authors explained that lactation improves both insulin sensitivity and metabolism, which could reduce the risk of diabetes.
The study authors said women who breast-fed with "higher intensity and longer duration of lactation," were less likely to develop type 2 diabetes two years later.
Another study published last month in the Annals of Oncology found that women who breast-fed appeared less likely to develop certain kinds of breast cancer.
Researchers looked a compilation of 27 medical studies to see how often women who had breast-fed developed certain types of breast cancer. They found that women who breast-fed were 20 percent less likely to develop “triple negative” breast cancer, a form of cancer that has none of the common hormone markers, such as estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2).
Dr. Marisa Weiss, senior author on the cancer study and director of breast health outreach at Lankenau Medical Center in Philadelphia, said researchers are still unsure why breast-feeding seems to protect women from breast cancer but that doctors have theorized that the breast is not fully developed until a woman breast-feeds.
"It's immature," Weiss told ABC News, referring to the breast. "It takes a first full-term pregnancy for it to finally grow up and mature on the inside and take on capability to make milk."
Weiss said while breast-feeding has long been associated with better outcomes for infants, experts are also emphasizing how it can help mothers.
"It’s clearly an important opportunity," Weiss said of hospitals explaining to new moms about the benefits of breast-feeding. "It’s better for the baby and better for the mom."
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers breast-feed for at least six months if possible and notes that "each year of breast-feeding has been calculated to result in a 4.3 percent reduction in breast cancer."
Dr. Marjorie Greenfield, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, said the studies could help more women be informed about their choices.
"I think it’s one more piece of information and I think it’s particularly helpful for women who are overweight and have diabetes," said Greenfield.
She emphasized, however, that women need to be supported in their decision, whether that's breast-feeding or not.
Courtesy of Kristen Marie(PHILADELPHIA) -- An infant battling brain cancer, who famously was kissed by Pope Francis during the pontiff's historic visit to the U.S. this year, is responding to treatment, according to her parents.
Gianna Masciantonio, 1, was diagnosed with a rare form of brain tumor called systemic juvenile xanthogranuloma (JXG) months after being born, her parents said. Doctors spotted the inoperable tumor on her brain stem and told her parents she would likely not survive for more than a few weeks.
"Her life was a miracle," Gianna's father, Joe Masicantonio, told ABC News. "They told us to go home and spend days to weeks," with her.
Gianna had been in hospice care since shortly after she was born, and when the infant developed cysts, an 11-hour operation to drain the cysts led to the rare diagnosis of JXG. Though the tumor itself is benign, the location on the brain stem is potentially deadly because it can affect Gianna's ability to breathe and for her heart to beat, according to her mother Kristen Masciantonio.
Since the surgery, Gianna has been on multiple chemotherapy treatments to try and shrink the tumor, said her parents, who are devout Catholic.
The Masciantonio family celebrated when Gianna was kissed by Pope Francis during a parade in Philadelphia. Joe Masciantonio said the visit helped cement how important their faith was to them throughout this ordeal.
While Joe Masciantonio said Gianna's tumor shrunk after her papal visit, he said he did not want to call it "a miracle" and that he also wanted to draw attention to her doctors at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and Texas Children's Hospital.
Kristen Masciantonio said the last courses of treatment occurred just before she got to meet Pope Francis. She said they were nervous about bringing her to the crowd but decided at the last minute to risk it.
"Pope Francis kissing her was my miracle, was the way of God telling me he was with us," Kristen Masciantonio said.
Joe Masciantonio said Gianna will continue to undergo chemotherapy and the tumor remains inoperable due to its placement on her brain stem. He said for now the family is enjoying all the time they have with her.
"She’s the toughest baby I’ve ever seen in my life," he told ABC News. "She’s our inspiration. She’s really the best little girl."