During her short life of one year, eight months and twelve days, Marcela de Jesus Ferreira made more friends than any other child of her age. Some 1,500 attended her funeral and accompanied her casket to the cemetery of Patrocinio Paulista, her hometown, where a street will be named in her memory.
Marcela de Jesus Ferreira was born on November 20, 2006. At four months of development, doctors diagnosed her with anencephaly, a birth defect in which the baby is born with a partial or non-existent brain. Babies born with this condition usually survive for only hours or days.
Marcela’s birth and struggle for life coincided with a heated debate on the legalization of abortion in Brazil in cases of anencephaly. Abortion supporters, who for months insisted that the condition only causes pain and suffering to babies, were not able to stifle the testimony of Casilda Galante Ferreira, the 36 year-old mother of Marcela.
“Everybody suffers, but she doesn’t belong to me, she belongs to God and I am taking care of her here,” she told journalists who interviewed her after giving birth. “Every second of her life” is precious, she said. “I consider her life to be a miracle so great that I am going to wait until God decides when to take her.” That moment came on August 1.
According to Brazilian media, Marcela died of cardiac arrest from complications due to pneumonia. Hundreds attended her funeral, and her parents decided to carry her casket to its final resting place. Prayers and songs of joy accompanied the procession, as friends and family members took turns respectfully carrying her casket to the cemetery.
Casilda said she tried to be the best mother she could. “God came to get her. It was her time. I am happy because she didn’t suffer much and she lived surrounded by love,” she said before saying her final goodbyes to little Marcela.