Family of Boy in Viral ‘Praying Santa' Photo Dealt Tragic Blow

The family of a boy whose image went viral in December after a stranger overheard him ask Santa to bring his dad good health was dealt a sudden and tragic blow last week.

Jason and Emily Coker's 20-year-old daughter, Sarah Hughey, died suddenly. Doctors tell the Cokers a blood clot in Hughey's lung reached her heart and sent her into cardiac arrest.

Emily Coker says rescuers revived Hughey on the way to the hospital, then a second time when her heart stopped again. After days in the ICU, doctors told the Cokers their daughter was brain dead.

"It's just very hard," Emily Coker said. "We had plans. This was not in our plans."

Back in December, the community rallied around the Coker family when a photo of their son, Jacob, praying with Santa at Bass Pro Shops in Garland went viral. Jason Coker, who suffers with a chronic health condition, had been in and out of the hospital for two years. On a visit to see Santa, Jacob didn't ask for toys. He asked for his dad's health to improve. Santa offered to pray. Another parent in line overheard the exchange and posted about it on Facebook.

The Cokers say people offered prayers, money and Christmas gifts after the story gained national attention. They didn't expect that Christmas would be their daughter's last.

Last Tuesday, Emily Coker says her daughter collapsed in front of her. By Saturday, doctors told the Cokers there was nothing more they could do. That was when the Cokers learned Hughey was an organ donor.

"It's oddly comforting knowing parts of her are still alive," Jason Coker said. "I can't explain why or how it just is."

The hospital told the Coker family that at least two people benefited from Hughey's organ donation.

They say they believe their daughter was an answer to someone else's prayers.

"If one more person signed up to be an organ donor or one more person was lead to Christ, then this interview is worth it," Emily Coker said. "She would have wanted that."

The community is once again supporting the Coker family. A friend started collecting donations to pay for Hughey's funeral.

Services will be held Saturday at 1 p.m. at Christian World Church at 891 Abrams Road in Richardson.

Visitation will be Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. at Williams Funeral Directors at 1600 S. Garland Avenue in Garland.

MORE: Click here if you would like to contribute to Hughey's funeral fund.

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