Changing Julio’s world
Here’s a long name for a tiny person: Julio Alberto Tineo Pena. When Julio came to Michigan from his home in the Dominican Republic he was 20 months old and looked younger because of his heart ailment, tetralogy of fallot. His host mom, Donna DeWeerd, says, “Julio was quite frail; small for his age, and unable to be normally active because of oxygen deprivation. He would try so hard but then give up because he just didn’t have the energy and stamina to do what he really wanted to do.”
Dr. Rodolfo Neirotti operated on Julio’s heart at DeVos Children’s Hospital. The surgery was successful, and the change in Julio was remarkable. Donna says, “Julio recovered very quickly. The effects were almost immediate, his coloring was no longer blue, and he wasn’t short of breath anymore. He began to do the normal things a child his age would do—and was almost awe-struck when he realized he could do them.”
Donna and her husband Al had hosted 10 HTC children before it was Julio’s turn, and their love and enthusiasm are still going strong. “Julio’s personality is adorable,” says Donna. “He wants to be loved and he wants to give love. He’s very seldom grumpy and has such cute and funny ways of doing things. He enjoys life! For the six weeks of his recovery, we laughed and cried as we watched Julio walk . . . and walk
. . . and finally even clumsily run. We anticipated his departure with mixed feelings because his stay with us had brought so much excitement and happiness into our home. But the photo you see here reminds us that this is a happy, happy ending. His parents’ faces, their tears and joy—they say it all.”
Dr. Michael Florentine and Dr. Kim Lee were Julio’s cardiologists. Dr. Steve Verkaik did his initial physical.