DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Every new parent faces an important decision, whether to store his or her child’s umbilical cord blood to possibly treat illness down the road.

A North Texas family says their choice to save their daughter’s cord blood saved her life, and has continued to help in her development three years later.

Imagine being told your child may never eat, see, walk or talk. That’s what the Johnson family was told.

Three years later their daughter Caroline is not only asking for food, she’s walking into the kitchen to get it.

Caroline was born with Hydrocephalus – fluid on the brain. Doctors immediately put the girl on a ventilator.

“We didn’t want her to live life on a machine, we just wanted her to go to Heaven if that was God’s will,” said Caroline’s mother Leigh Johnson.

“The doctors prepared us for her not to make it,” Caroline’s dad Russ Johnson recalled.

But when they took Caroline off the machine, she took everyone by surprise – continuing to breath and fight.

Five days later doctors sent the fragile newborn home with hospice, and with parents on a mission. “We feel like we took it in our own hands and left the hospital.”

The Johnson’s remembered they had saved Caroline’s cord blood, a recommendation of their OB-Gyn before anyone knew anything was wrong.

A 2004 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association says research shows doctors have used stem cells treat cancers, blood disorders, immune system deficiencies and tumors.

“The whole theory of the stem cells, they go into your body and become any type of cell and it’s amazing, our prayer is they went to her brain, and I believe they did,” says Leigh Johnson.

After several infusions of her own cord blood and many hours of therapy a week, the Johnson’s say their ‘little miracle’ is beating all odds, slowly but surely. “She’s living proof, we were told she wasn’t going to do anything. Now I can barely keep her in my lap,” says Russ.

“We really believe in it and believe it has helped Caroline tremendously,” says Leigh.

The Johnsons stored Caroline’s blood with CBR Cord Blood Registry, a private company based in San Bruno, California.

But another North Texas family had completely different experiences after using another California-based company.

MORE – Part Two – Searching For Answers
MORE – Part Three – A Statewide Alternative

MORE – Part Four – A Follow Up