‘Superhero’ nurse awarded for treating patients at work – and her own daughter’s mystery illness at home

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OKLAHOMA CITY - On an early April morning, Nurse Jessica Zan had just arrived at work at Integris Baptist Hospital when she heard a loud crash and saw a utility pole fall to the ground.

One of the two cars involved in the accident at Lake Hefner Parkway and Northwest Expressway caught fire.

Jessica didn't run from the danger - she ran toward it.

In both vehicles, women were trapped inside.

While trying to rescue them, Jessica she pulled so hard on the door handles of one vehicle that she pulled them completely off!

Fortunately, the broken windshield was popped out, and Jessica cut her hand prying it open, then unlocked the door.

Right next to the accident site is the hospital's medical helicopter pad, where a crew member tossed a fire extinguisher over the fence to Jessica.

After putting out the fire and helping free the women from both vehicles, Jessica waited for emergency crews to arrive, then went to work as if nothing had happened.

That's where she told fellow nurse Jennifer Smith about the early morning ordeal.

"She's very courageous, very empathetic, thoughtful, she always puts others first. This girl is amazing," Jennifer said.

Jennifer knows that Jessica not only saves patients at work but that when she goes home at night, she's also fighting to save her own daughter, four-year-old Lulu.

"Supermom, super nurse, and she's our superhero," Jennifer said.

Lulu was born without nine genes on her 16th chromosome - one of those genes controls eating, so now a feeding tube, hidden in a small unicorn backpack, is how Lulu thrives.

Caring for Lulu is a full-time job, so Jessica's husband, Jason, stays home with Lulu and her big sister Valentine.

Together, the Zan family incessantly researches this gene deletion syndrome, which is so extremely rare, it doesn't even have a name.

However, Lulu sure can feel it - with sleepless nights, seizures, and problems with growth and development.

Her parents call Lulu their "Little Mystery." Her condition has baffled doctors and specialists, who say Lulu's is the only case like it they've ever seen.

Jessica called the Mayo Clinic and was thrilled to hear that they will accept Lulu as a case study for a week this July, where multiple specialists will run more tests.

Jennifer says her coworker never complains and always has a smile to share, which is why she nominated Jessica for a $400 Pay it 4Ward award from First Fidelity Bank's Bobby Burger.

"It sounds like Jessica is a modern day Wonder Woman to me, so on behalf of First Fidelity Bank, here's $400," Bobby said as he handed the cash to Jennifer.

Jennifer set up the surprise at Integris Baptist Hospital, where Jessica thought she was attending a meeting.

Instead, when she walked in, her coworkers, Jason, and Lulu all yelled, "Surprise!"

Then Jennifer presented Jessica with a pink superhero cape, handed her the $400, and said, "The day you helped with the wreck and everything you've been through with your family, and how you treat all of your patients and all of us, you're amazing, and I brought a superhero cape for you," Jennifer said.

"Oh my gosh, you guys, thank you so much, I'm so overwhelmed right now," Jessica said in disbelief. "Sometimes you can feel a little emptied out, and to have people take care of me in this way, it refills the pot a little bit, and I am so honored and humbled," she said.

The most difficult part of Lulu's mystery gene-deletion condition is that her family never knows what will come next.

For instance, her seizures just recently started, and her first happened in Jessica's arms. Lulu even stopped breathing for a bit. "I thought I was going to have to give my baby CPR," Jessica said. "Our little mystery is full of joy and full of life, and she's made of rubber. She keeps bouncing back from everything that life seems to throw at her," Lulu's mother said.

Though doctors say Lulu's case is the only documented case they've seen, through Facebook, her family has found another little girl in Ohio with the same syndrome.

Until doctors can solve the mystery of Lulu's missing DNA code, her superhero mom will always be there to pick Lulu back up when life knocks her down.

"We are not giving up," Jessica said. "I want her to have every ounce of enjoyment out of this difficult life that she can."

'Pay it 4Ward' is sponsored by First Fidelity Bank.

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