The Language of Compassion: Daniel's NICU Story

daniel blog image
Daniel Villatoro, Indianapolis, with his mother Julia Villatoro (center) and Riley NICU nurses Ellen Larimore and Elizabeth Carter

When Julia Villatoro’s son Daniel was born on January 5, 2015, she worried he would not survive.

Daniel was delivered 11 weeks prematurely because of Julia’s life-threatening preeclampsia. He weighed just two pounds.

“When they delivered him, they said his heart was still not beating,” Julia explains in her native Spanish while sitting in the Family Lounge in the Riley Hospital Newborn Intensive Care Unit. “His lungs were still not functioning well, he had many risks.”

Daniel was rushed from Eskenazi Hospital across the street to Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health, where the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) staff used special ventilators to help his tiny lungs.

“Poco a poco,” Julia explains, little by little, Daniel got stronger and finally was weaned off the ventilator. He has faced many other twists, turns, and complications, and Julia has been grateful to have caring Riley NICU nurses by her side such as Elizabeth Carter, Jo Curtiss and Ellen Larimore. “The nurses take very good care of me,” Julia says. 

Julia especially appreciates how nurses like Elizabeth didn’t have to be bilingual to communicate with her. They spoke the language of compassion.

“Even though she knows only a tiny bit of Spanish, she knows how to explain things to me,” says Julia. “She taught me how to clean his little mouth, how to give him milk, how to change his diapers. She explained to me little by little how the process worked.”

As Daniel continues to grow stronger, Julia is filled with gratitude for Riley Hospital. 

“Thanks to God, and all this attention, everything has helped make my baby better,” Julia explains. “I think this is a good hospital. They can address whatever problem they find in a child.”

Riley Blogger

The Riley Blog is written and/or edited by members of the Riley Children's Foundation Communications Staff.

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