FORT WORTH (CBS11) – Itzel Gutierrez cries every day for her daughter.
Born six weeks early, little Sophia arrived August 5 in a Laredo hospital, struggling to breathe.
“She can’t breathe through her nose,” said Gutierrez. “Whenever they take her tube off, her airway starts to close up.”
Sophia was waiting for surgery in Corpus Christi, when Hurricane Harvey intervened. Worried a power outage could be life threatening to her, hospital staff warned her mother she’d have to evacuate.
“I was scared. I was, ‘Where was my daughter going to go?’” said Gutierrez.
One of six neonatal intensive care patients evacuated to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, pictures of Sophia’s transport on a special medically-equipped plane made national news.
For the first time, though, Gutierrez could not be by her side.
She followed three days later, driving through heavy rains to reunite with her daughter.
“On the road, I was just crying,” she said. “I want my baby. I want to go home with her.”
The trip to Fort Worth brought an unexpected chance to meet with more specialists and consider more options for Sophia’s medical care. Doctors, Gutierrez said, may be able to help Sophia breathe on her own again, rather than rely on alternate measures.
“I have more hope here that she’s going to come out healthy,” said Gutierrez.
Sophia, she said, is now growing stronger every day, revealing a feisty personality when she puts up a fight with the nurses checking on her.
“When she was in my belly, I would always sing to her. It’s a Spanish song,” she said. “Now that I sing it to her, she’ll always open her eyes. She’ll be wide awake, like she knows who I am.”
One day, she said, this experience will be just a story she tells Sophia.