Born prematurely at Broward Health Medical Center with a congenital disorder at 2 lbs., 3 oz., Alfonsina was never expected to survive, much less walk, talk or even feed herself. With professional help from the people and programs at Children’s Diagnostic & Treatment Center (CDTC), however, she is now a thriving 13-year-old who attends regular school and interacts with her classmates.
“It’s clear that she is a special needs child,” her mother, Karina said. “But it’s also clear to others there is something really special about her.”
Alfonsina’s particular brand of determination and spunk caught the eye of her CDTC pediatrician, Lisa Gaye Robinson, M.D., who nominated her for both the CDTC Hero Award and as a candidate for this year’s Winterfest Boat Parade Junior Captain.
After she was born, Alfonsina fought for her life in an incubator in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Broward Health Medical Center’s children’s hospital. Following surgery to repair her fragile state, she slowly began to improve, but not without substantial brain damage, particularly to her right side. As she grew to five years old, more surgeries ensued, including two operations to correct her eye muscles and another to her spine to help her walk.
With a referral to CDTC’s Early Steps program from Dr. Robinson, Alfonsina received specialized care and admission to an early pre-school program for special needs children that included in-school speech and physical therapy, along with two years of weekly home visits from a nurse who checked in with both Karina and her daughter on their respective progress.
“We will never leave CDTC,” Karina said, with gratitude filling her voice. “They are like my family now. They are so kind and really care about all the kids. They always do and say all the right things.”
Now that Alfonsina has improved to the point of being able to attend regular school, Karina said her daughter sometimes complains that other children often shy away from her because of her disabilities. But Alfonsina is determined not to let that get her down.
“She understands her own needs and is happy most of the time,” Karina said. “This is a little girl who knows she can surmount any obstacle, whether it’s on the playground at a park or in her heart, she always takes my hand and says, ‘Come on mommy, let’s do it!’”
Nominated by Dr. Lisa Gaye Robinson, Pediatrician
About our Hero of the Month
Each month, CDTC staff nominate one of our children as our Hero of the Month. These special boys and girls are heroes in our eyes. They show strength, perseverance, determination and a positive outlook while facing great challenges.
Their stories are powerful and heartwarming and reflect the impact CDTC and you, our community, has on their daily lives.
A trip to our Clinic is more than just a doctor’s visit to a child with special healthcare needs.
But, insurance doesn’t cover everything. That’s why your gift is so important.