A Chance to Thrive: Meet Hector, Maria and Elena

Hector, and Maria smile with their baby Elena

Elena is not yet 2 years old, but she has already battled extreme odds—and won! Elena was born at slightly more than 5 months, weighing only 1 pound, 4 ounces. “She had only a 20% chance of survival,” says Hector, Elena’s dad.

After two months in a neonatal intensive care unit, doctors discovered abnormal blood vessels in Elena’s eye. This condition, retinopathy, is common in premature babies and can cause blindness.

“For Elena, it was a struggle from the beginning,” says Hector. Three months after she was born, Elena came home, weighing only 4 pounds.

But survival was just the first obstacle. “The doctors told us she was going to be behind in vision, hearing, walking and talking,” Hector says. Elena began receiving early intervention services from Wayfinder.

Evelyn, a Wayfinder early intervention specialist, remembers meeting Elena for the first time. “She was almost 6 months old, but she looked like a newborn,” Evelyn says. “She was a very tiny baby.”

Evelyn established a rapport with Elena and began with the basics: tracking objects with her eyes and rolling over. With dedicated support from her parents and Evelyn, Elena began meeting her developmental goals.

Hector, Maria and Elena attended a session at Wayfinder’s Camp Bloomfield for early-intervention families. “Elena has a thing for horses now,” Hector says. “She cried the first time she got on the horse. We did it again, and she loved it! She didn’t want to get off.”

Twenty months after her birth, Elena started walking. “She sings songs. She has friends,” says Maria. “She is very energetic. She has a lot of charisma.” Her vision and hearing remain normal.

“Now, we have no worries about Elena being behind or struggling,” says Maria. Hector adds, “She overcame everything.”

January 10, 2019