When Rosio Castro’s infant daughter, Rihanna, turned six months old,
she was diagnosed with an ear infection. Then another. And another.
By the time Rihanna was one and a half years old, she had suffered
42 serious ear infections.
There are numerous deadly bacterial infections that can befall a person. Rosio knows them all because Rihanna has contracted 14 different infections, often simultaneously, including RSV, H. flu, pneumonia and MRSA. Finally, after incessant testing, Rihanna was diagnosed with an immunodeficiency disease. She does not produce antibodies, making her susceptible to infection.
Rihanna has undergone a lifetime of health problems … and she is just three years old. Any Baby Can has helped her with rent, utilities, a car seat, food, diapers, clothing, Holiday Giving, and other resources. Genevieve Brock, Case Manager, says. “This mom is stretched thin, but she is maintaining herself and pushing through. We are so glad we can help them.” Rosio says, “Words cannot describe how great Any Baby Can has been to me.”
Diego is one of approximately 3,000 children in Bexar County with autism — a struggle that keeps his parents on autopilot. It isn’t always easy for Diego and his parents, but it has always been joyful. With a combination of love, nurturing, patience, Applied Behavioral Analysis, speech and occupational therapy, and the unflagging support of Any Baby Can, Rachel says Diego has made giant leaps, but he has a long way to go. At four, he functions at a 2 1/2 -year-old level and articulation and social appropriateness remain big challenges. “But he can finally speak,” his proud mom gushes, “and his voice is the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard.”
At Any Baby Can, Rachel has found a new extended family. The staff and the support group with Dr. Josue Gonzales and other parents who share the journey of autism keep her going despite fears and frustrations. The ABC resource library is one of her most prized tools. “When I am at Any Baby Can, I’m stronger, I understand that I’m not alone, I always feel like I’m getting a big hug,” she says.
Samantha Lynn was born with a rare condition, V.A.T.E.R. Syndrome, the initials of which refer to the five different areas that may suffer abnormalities: vertebrae, anus, trachea, esophagus and renal. She was not expected to live, let alone talk or walk. Any Baby Can selected Samantha Lynn as its 2010 Adopt-A-Doll because this spirited little girl with an unquenchable zeal for life has proven the medical establishment wrong. With the selfless, loving support of her parents, Samantha Lynn is beautiful proof that love, faith and tenacity can conquer all. Any Baby Can first met Samantha Lynn when she was in the NICU – and offered practical help at a time when Darlene and Abe were reeling from the medical news and uncertain future. ABC provided tracheotomy and colostomy supplies, clothing, blankets and grocery gift cards.
Alyssa didn’t come in to this world in the usual way, twisted at a backward 90-degree angle, her head touching her buttocks, she suffered from multiple muscular contractures and locked joints. Alyssa has been diagnosed with arthrogryposis, a rare condition where babies are born with stiff joints, undeveloped muscles and bones, and distortions that may include clubfeet, cupped hands and dislocated hips. “Any Baby Can has done so much for us,” says her mother. “They bring diapers, wipes and H-E-B gift cards to help with groceries. They have provided us with a specialized car bed for Alyssa and have referred us to people and agencies we could never have known about.
Benjamin was born on July 29, 2006. His mother, Patricia Moreno, was told he had spina bifida. In addition, Benjamin rarely made a sound, didn’t turn his head, couldn’t suck and was losing weight. After 10 months of struggle, she found Any Baby Can – a meeting that turned her life around and gave tiny Benjamin hope for the first time. Any Baby Can provided Patricia Moreno much needed resources and connected her to PACES – a parenting support group that has brought occupational, nutritional and physical therapy services to Benjamin. Any Baby Can has helped her with utility bills, diapers, food and case management, in addition to assisting her in applying for Social Security assistance for her son.
Jadeyn is a precious little girl who was born at 23 weeks and given a 7% chance of making it through the night. Any Baby Can has assisted Jadeyn and her family with special formula, helped her to work through the Medicaid system, gave her food boxes and HEB certificates for premature diapers, scheduled appointments with counselors and a parenting mentor, and supplied her with valuable information for available programs and resources. Baby Jadeyn has undergone several major surgeries thus far in her short life. Shawna spends hours each day doing exercises with Jadeyn that her therapists suggest during their weekly visits. Jadeyn has overcome so much thus far, exhibiting incredible strength and resiliency. Shawna has faith that Jadeyn will continue to confront any obstacle placed before her with the same amount of undaunting determination she has already shown in her young life.
Clark is a charming little boy who has been receiving services from Any Baby Can since birth, when he was diagnosed with Hirschprung’s Disease. Hirschprung’s Disease is a genetic disorder that does not allow the cells in the colon to form correctly, thus making it impossible for the lower intestine to work properly and pass its contents. Any Baby Can has assisted Clark and his family with ostamy bags, sterile application wipes, ostamy paste, in-home parent education, referrals to other community resources, and much needed support. The long term prognosis for Clark is a good one. He is gaining weight and has regained most of his energy. His recent surgical procedure has been a life-changing one, and Clark will always have some special needs. Hydration, rash and bowel control are just some of the issues that will be dealt with over the course of his life. Any Baby Can helped Clark’s family learn to adapt in a short period of time, and with their continued support, Clark will grow up to lead a rewarding and productive life.
Naomi was diagnosed with autism in July of 2004 and has been working with Any Baby Can since her diagnosis. Any Baby Can has provided a number of services to her parents, Ken and Marti, through the “Reaching Families Facing Autism” program. Her family has received a full program of in home sessions to help learn more about behavioral communication skills. They are active in the family support groups for families of children with autism and Naomi’s sisters (Emily and Hailey) have benefited from the sibling support group. But Naomi’s favorite service is the referral from Any Baby Can to a school especially for children with autism…because Naomi loves school!
Rhody was born with several major birth defects: a hole in his heart, a cleft lip, cleft palate (when the roof of the mouth is open, in Rhody’s case, all the way back to the throat) & missing ribs. Additionally his windpipe and esophagus were not completely formed, making feeding by mouth virtually impossible. Any Baby Can has provided Rhody with medical equipment, assistance with care coordination, as well as referrals to community resources for children with critical and chronic illnesses. Additionally this agency was able to get Rhody’s family the connections they so desperately needed to Early Childhood Intervention programs as well as supplying his costly specialty formulas, and tracheotomy filters which cost $1,400 per month. Rhody is a “Cowboy at heart” and continues to amaze his family.
Rachel was born with hip dysplasia and was put into a harness on her second day of life, little did her family know that this would be the least of her challenges. She was also diagnosed with Third Nerve Palsy in her left eye, for which she has already undergone three surgeries, in addition to Sensory Integration Disorder which resulted in her being on baby food for over 6 years. At 2 months old, they learned that she was born with severe congenital brain damage. When Rachel was 2 months old, her family was told she had epilepsy. Soon she was having hundreds of seizures per day. Due to the continued seizure activity, Rachel was not able to sleep for more than 20 minutes at a time and was severely delayed developmentally. At a time when they had nowhere to turn, Rachel’s parents heard about Any Baby Can from a friend. Any Baby Can provided a Family Friend, which gave Rachel’s mother the opportunity to catch up on some much needed rest. Rachel’s parents also used our Counseling services and Resource and Referral Program. Rachel has had 8 surgeries thus far, two of which were brain surgeries where she had most of her temporal lobe, and part of her parietal lobe removed from her right brain. Although she continues to have seizures that relocated to the occipital lobe, she is thriving and doing more than the doctors ever said she would.
Rodolfo - “Baby Rudy” was born to a loving family. This baby boy was diagnosed with congenital heart disease and developmental delays. At 7 days old, Rudy had to endure open-heart surgery, which followed 2 months of hospitalization. He still will have to undergo 2 more major heart surgeries to correct his heart problems. Rudy also has a Nissan wrap, due to the ulcers in his esophagus, and is not able to feed by mouth. He receives all his nutritional services through a gastro-intestinal tube. Rudy’s family contacted ABC for assistance with a specialized formula, which is currently not covered under the family’s health insurance. The child’s formula costs over $600 a month. Due to the family’s income they do not qualify for WIC or SSI. ABC has assisted them with formula, support, referral to Family Friends, and the State’s Children with Special Health Care Needs program.
Thu Thao Thi (Tu Taw Ti) has already had six major surgeries. Because of her condition, she has had a colostomy bag and has constant problems with incontinence. Her family was first referred to ABC for assistance with diapers, which they could not afford. Her father became unemployed due to a heart problem. ABC has assisted with diapers and so much more over the past several years. Despite her many adversities, and sometimes being teased about having her diaper changed by nurses throughout the day, this beautiful girl remains a bright, friendly and intelligent child. She is in the top of her class and does well with her classmates.
Mikey weighed only 2lbs. 4oz. at birth. When he was just a few days old his lungs collapsed, he suffered a serious brain bleed and was also diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. When he was three months old, Mikey finally went home with a shunt, nebulizer treatments and continuous oxygen. Six months later, he stopped eating and growing and he was “jerking”. This time Mikey was diagnosed with Reflux, gastrointestinal problems, and an MRI revealed that he had suffered a stroke before birth and was now having seizure activity. One month later, after esophageal surgery, Mikey was released from the hospital and went home with a stomach tube through which he is fed. Given all his set backs and many, many shunt revisions, Mikey is doing well. He is walking, verbalizing, and attending school; all of which was unexpected.
Betina appeared perfectly healthy and normal at birth. Within a few months though, her family discovered that she had been born blind. Shortly afterwards her parents divorced. Now a single mother with two young children, one with special needs, Betina’s mother turned to Any Baby Can for help. Betina’s family found the support they needed. They received financial crisis assistance to help pay for rent, utilities, and groceries. Betina was also referred to the Brighton School. Most importantly though, the family received the counseling they needed to give them the strength and skills to cope with their special circumstances. For Betina, her mother Pat, and brother Nathan, Any Baby Can has been an understanding ear, a shoulder to cry on, a source of information and referrals, and a friend. Betina may be blind, but she has not allowed her disability to be a handicap. She attends school, loves red shoes, refuses to cut her long hair, and by the age of six was an accomplished pianist. Happy Birthday was the first piano piece Betina ever played at the ripe young age of 2 1/2.
Andy had an undiagnosed metabolic disorder diagnosed in infancy that caused him to have frequent intermittent episodes of vomiting and seizure activity, as well as weakness and loss of muscle control. He often lapsed into a semi-conscious lethargic state, and trips to the emergency room and doctor’s offices were frequent. Although Andy was often absent, between episodes, he was able to walk normally and attend school. In addition to Andy’s metabolic disorder, he had six surgeries due to recurrent ear infections and has a permanent hearing loss. Through Any Baby Can, Andy’s family was able to access community resources and services, tutoring and home schooling programs, secured a wheelchair and a Family Friend senior volunteer to help out in their home. In addition, his brother participated in the Any Baby Can Sibling Support Group.
“Baby Natalie” - The joyful birth of identical twins after years of hope for another child, was clouded by news that “Baby Natalie” had Down Syndrome and a ventricular septal heart defect. The stress of this and twin sister Naomi’s feeding problems and intolerance to milk left the family physically, emotionally and financially exhausted. Help from Any Baby Can was provided in the form of a Family Friend senior volunteer in home two mornings per week and donations of expensive, specialty formulas not covered by insurance. A close relationship which continues through today was established with the family, and the twins’ proud mother has since been appointed by the Governor to serve on the State Interagency Council for Early Childhood Intervention programs.
“Baby Christopher” is a miracle child and “high tech” baby in every sense of the word. Born with an extremely rare defect, rib agenesis, Christopher was ventilator dependent … missing 7 out of 12 ribs and all chest muscles on his right side. Christopher spent the first 7 months of life hospitalized. Two San Antonio area physician/surgeons pioneered a life-transforming surgery and successfully implanted a patented expandable rib cage in Christopher. Any Baby Can extended significant emotional and financial support as well as advocacy to his dedicated and determined parents during this difficult period and beyond. This precocious child has surmounted incredible odds and having now entered his teenage years, is a prime example of how Any Baby Can reaches full potential.
“Baby Amy” was born to a family already well acquainted with Any Baby Can through the loss of their infant son to SIDS. This beautiful little girl appeared healthy at birth and progressed normally until approximately 18 months. Soon after that she began to developmentally regress, losing skills such as talking and walking. A “devastating diagnosis” of Rett Syndrome was reached by physicians in Houston, who predicted that the rare degenerative neurological disorder which affects only girls would result in profound mental retardation and that there was no cure or treatment. Today Amy…still a beautiful child … is in special education classes and has a family who loves her dearly. Amy’s mother, Connie, has been instrumental in organizing two support groups in the South Texas area: for parents experiencing Sudden Infant Death and families affected by Rett Syndrome.
As a toddler “Baby Travis” exhibited serious digestive problems which were diagnosed as “pseudo-obstructive disorder”, a rare digestive disease. Travis received all of his nourishment intravenously, and his family experienced devastating financial difficulties. Any Baby Can offered significant financial and emotional support when the self-employed father was unable to sustain medical insurance coverage for Travis and Medicaid refused coverage.
“Baby Chloe” and family came to Any Baby Can shortly after birth. After having two healthy boys, the parents were overwhelmed with the issues facing their delicate little
girl. Diagnosed with DeGeorge Syndrome (where the body fails to produce calcium), strabismus, a cyst on the brain and later delays in walking and talking … there was immediate and ongoing financial and emotional stress. The outcome is brighter than imagined, however, as Chloe is now a sweet and outgoing young lady who has overcome enormous odds. In the process, her mother has become an advocate for all children with special needs and completed a master’s degree in public administration to assure that public policy is supportive of special children and families.
“Baby Alex” was a preemie twin whose tiny body struggled for survival and faced the challenges of Cerebral palsy. Any Baby Can worked closely with the family from birth to the end of his life. Alex passed away at the age of four years, but his parents dedicated the doll to his memory and twin brother Adam was the focal point of the 1992 Campaign luncheon.
“Christina” became the third doll who was adopted by the San Antonio Community. A truly beautiful child, Christina perplexed physicians and family with her apparent inability to master spoken language. This aphasia is apparently a reflection of a language-processing problem. Today, Christina is a loving teen who is the highlight of her parents’ life; but who still has limited speech and is enrolled in special ed-programs.
“Baby Benjamin” became the 1st baby boy doll in the Any Baby Can collection. Benjamin was made in the likeness of a child with serious congenital heart problems, who managed to capture the hearts of Any Baby Can staff with his smile and “all-boy” attitude in spite of the oxygen tanks and nasal canula that provided a lifeline. Benjamin has since passed away.
“Baby Amanda” became the 1st doll to be handcrafted by ceramic artist Lupe Carrisalez for Any Baby Can. The idea for presentation of a life size, look-alike doll, in lieu of plaques to the agency’s significant donors, is credited to former Board Member Barbara O’Malley-O’Connor. This inaugural doll was modeled after a toddler who had multiple surgeries of gastro-intestinal problems, whose family benefited significantly from Any Baby Can’s services.