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Shaken toddler goes home early
| November 21, 1998

An Aurora family's "miracle" baby went home Friday.

Last month, 15-month-old Hunter Rodriguez was nearly shaken to death. He spent the next week comatose, wrapped in wires and monitors, clinging to life at Children's Hospital.

Hunter's mom and dad, Jacqueline, 28 and Greg, 32, expected Hunter to stay in the hospital for several months. But the little boy has taken giant steps to recovery, so his doctors let him go home early.

"We're real excited to be going home," Jacqueline Rodriguez said, while a sleepy Hunter rested in a stroller. He is doing 100 percent better that he was when he came here."

"We've been praying for this day to come," said Marcie Clouthier, a relative. "It's a real miracle."

It was a bittersweet day for the Children's Hospital staff, who are happy that Hunter is recovering, but sad to see him go.

"He is a very sweet boy," physical therapist Michelle Patch said. "He's a flirt and a teaser. He's a lot of fun."

Hunter was taken to Children's Oct. 19, after his day-care provider, Shawna Pint, called Jacqueline Rodriguez and told her the boy was pale and vomiting.

Doctors diagnosed Hunter's injuries as consistent with shaken-baby syndrome. The boy's vision is impaired, and he has motor skill problems.

Pint, 29, has been charged with felony child abuse.

Children's Hospital therapists are teaching Hunter to be a toddler again - how to sit up, grab toys and roll over.

Hunter lost an important month in his life, Patch said. Children learn so much at this age. He's losing growth because he's had to learn to get back to the way he was.

Patch doesn't know if Hunter will fully recover.

"He won't come out of this unscathed," she said.

But Hunter's therapists and parents are optimistic.

"He's a resilient little boy. He's a fighter," Patch said. "His family is his biggest asset. It's a shame his life was interrupted like this. He has a long road to go."

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