Ambassador Highlight: Meet Alyssa

Published: May 16th, 2016

Category: CMN Ambassador Stories, For the Kids, Patient Stories

156219_1275647115797728_7905582787425656257_nBorn at only 26 weeks and weighing a tiny 1 pound and 4 ounces, Alyssa started fighting for her life right after her birth in the neonatal intensive care unit at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital.

“She was in the hospital more often than not as a child,” Tina Mann, Alyssa’s mom, said.

Due to complications from her extreme prematurity, Alyssa had her first surgery at 2 months old to place a feeding tube into her abdomen. At 3 months old, her care team placed a shunt to drain excessive cerebrospinal fluid that was accumulating in her brain.

Following that procedure, Alyssa spent two weeks at home only to return to the children’s hospital for another three months. Her visits would continue for 13 years until her family maintained care at home. Now 19, Alyssa is a happy, amazing teenager. She loves horses and looks forward to attending Dance Marathon at UF every year.

Although her early entrance in life affected her hearing, speech and the way she can move her muscles, Alyssa and her family are grateful for the extensive care she received at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital.

“We were told Alyssa would never walk, talk, eat, sit up, or even interact with us,” Tina said.

“She walks with a walker, has a cochlear implant and communicates verbally and with sign language,” Tina said.

“Alyssa eats what we eat; she enjoys school at a regular high school, rides an adaptive bike, swims and rides horses with help. She also has an awesome personality! We all know none of this would be possible without UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital.”

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