Hear Naomi's story,
as featured on KS95 For Kids.
There's something special about Naomi-an engaging quality that, for reasons her family can't quite pinpoint, draws people in. A spirited and charming 5-year-old, Naomi has the uncanny ability to make connections with virtually anyone. "From little kids to elderly ladies to 200-pound football players, Naomi isn't afraid to engage a single soul!" says her mother, Elizabeth.
Physician's Reassurance Offers Hope
Elizabeth learned that her daughter would have spina bifida when she was just 20 weeks pregnant. A condition that occurs when the spinal cord fails to develop normally in the earliest months of pregnancy, spina bifida can cause partial paralysis, hydrocephalus (excess fluid on the brain) and other complications.
After her initial shock, a first meeting with Michael Partington, M.D., a pediatric neurosurgeon at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare, significantly altered Elizabeth's outlook. "He put me at ease," she remembers of learning about the hospital located just minutes from the family's St. Paul home. "I knew we would have the very best support system, and the expertise that we needed, right at our fingertips."
Naomi Takes Her First Steps
Naomi had her first appointment at Gillette as an infant. At age 2, she began weekly physical therapy with Jackie Norling, PT, with the goal of one day walking independently. Elizabeth says she'll never forget the day Naomi took her first steps, so deeply engaged in conversation with her therapist that she soon had walked an entire length of hallway without assistance.
Elizabeth points to Jackie's support, coupled with Naomi's indomitable spirit, for the remarkable milestone that left her in ecstatic tears. "Jackie's encouragement has been vital to Naomi's progress, both physically and mentally," says Elizabeth. "She-and our entire Gillette team-genuinely care about Naomi, just as we do."
"An Incredible Place!"
Naomi began kindergarten at Somerset Heights Elementary in September and is already a favorite among her classmates, who notice if she's absent for even a day of school. She may need may need additional surgeries in the future to treat her hydrocephalus and to correct orthopedic complications resulting from spina bifida. Naomi's family is confident, however, that she will continue overcoming obstacles through sheer determination, spirit, and her Gillette support system.
"It's the sense of comfort that comes from knowing you're at the right place for your child," describes Elizabeth of Gillette. "It's an incredible place for Naomi-and for us."