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Hope For Hunter
SBS SPOTLIGHT: Hunter's Story

October 19, 1998 is a day that our family will never forget. Hunter's life was changed within seconds at the hands of his day-care provider. Hunter was 14 months old at the time of the tragic incident. The day-care provider called to say that something was wrong with Hunter and that he was breathing funny. Upon my arrival the sight of Hunter was something that still to this day haunts my mind.

"Hunter's life was changed within seconds at the hands of his day-care provider."Hunter was pale and barely breathing, his teeth clinched tight, he had vomit in his mouth, his arms and legs were bowed, and his eyes were unfocused and dazed. 911 had not been called yet. I screamed at the daycare provider to call them that Hunter was in immediate need of medical attention. She did.

By the time the emergency crew arrived they began to work on Hunter immediately. They loaded him in the ambulance to transport him to nearest hospital. I was horrified as I leaned over my seat to see the medics repeatedly probing Hunters arms and legs trying to find a vein to hook up some type of IV's. They were working on him and every bump in the road caused another miss in the search for his unreachable veins. At the hospital the emergency room doctors worked fast and furiously to help Hunter and to figure out what was wrong with him.

Greg and I were asked if we had a religious preference and we told them that we were Catholic. A priest was sent to administer Hunter's Last Rites just before the flight for life was summoned to take Hunter to Children's Hospital. We were told to say our good-byes in case he wouldn't make the trip. We were not allowed in the helicopter and told to drive ourselves all the way downtown while our son was taken by helicopter.

Once at Children's Hospital, we were told of Hunter's diagnosis, Shaken Baby Syndrome. He also informed us that the first 24 hours would tell us if Hunter was going to live or die; and if he did live that we should not expect to have the same child we use to.

Hunter remained in a coma for a little over a week and as he slowly he came out of it, doctors told us that his vision was gone, he was blind. Hunter had little to no movement in his limbs. When taken off of the breathing machine he could breath on his own. He was fed by a tube. Hunter was initially in a vegetative state suffering from seizure after seizure. Once the seizures were somewhat controlled by medicine Hunter began a regimen of physical, occupation, speech and vision therapies.

Hunter was released from Children's Hospital on November 20, 1998. Thanks to a very gracious God Hunter was showing signs of a miracle. The doctors were amazed by his resilience. Hunter continued to attend 12 therapies a week. His vision began to improve and he began to walk and talk again.

Hunter RodriquezHUNTER TODAY
Hunter truly is a miracle. Today he runs around like any other child. Currently his passion is playing soccer. Although the brain damage that was inflicted is permanent, the mind is a mysterious thing and we are still surprised by everything that he does. His vision is impaired, but you wouldn't guess by the way he kicks the soccer ball! He is assisted in school by a special education team and has an Individual Education Plan.

Hunter's recovery did not happen overnight, it has been a long journey that our family travels daily. Some days are a struggle but when it all boils down to it, Hunter is a very blessed little Angel and there is nothing I would change about him.

One message I would like the public to know is that the woman who did this to Hunter was sentenced to prison and has done her time. For many years I harbored extreme hatred towards her for tearing my family apart with her thoughtless actions. As a result I became consumed with bitterness and ironically, I too, became a prisoner. On September 1, 2002 God gave me the gift to forgive. I wrote her a letter to let her know that I forgave her. She wrote me back to thank me and we have now put this behind us.

Forgiveness was a necessary piece to complete this puzzle; my hatred made me a prisoner and my forgiveness set me free.

Thank you to all the family and friends who stuck by us through the good and the bad times. You will never know how much your love and support pulled us through.

We would like to dedicate this website in memory of Jonah Ruiz. Jonah was a victim of Shaken Baby Syndrome at the age of 7 weeks old by the hands of his day-care provider. Hunter and Jonah were brought to Children's Hospital on the same day. Hunter survived, Jonah did not. We think about and pray for Jonah and his family all the time. Jonah now is an Angel in heaven and we believe and hope that he looks after Hunter.


© 2004 Hope For Hunter

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