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Meet Celeste! Our 2024 CMN Hospitals Champion

Each year, 170 member Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMN Hospitals) identify a “Champion” in each of their local communities to serve as the face for children treated at their local children’s hospital. These ambassadors spend their year advocating for the charitable needs of children’s hospitals across North America.

This year, five-year-old Celeste was chosen as the 2024 CMN Hospitals Champion for Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children. Along with her parents, Akosua and Fernando, and sister, Gabriela, Celeste will spend the year serving as a local advocate for pediatric healthcare.

Meet Celeste

During their 20-week ultrasound, Akosua and her husband, Fernando, eagerly awaited news about their second child’s gender. But the technician’s expression hinted at a potential issue. The next Monday, they got the tough news: their baby had spina bifida.

Akosua, determined to explore all options, did research, and found that Orlando Health offered surgery for unborn babies with spina bifida. She quickly reached out to the Fetal Care Center at Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies. Within a week, she had an appointment and started an evaluation to see if she and her baby were candidates for fetal surgery. Thankfully, they were eligible, and at 25 weeks into her pregnancy, Akosua underwent surgery to repair her baby’s spinal defect while she was still in the womb.

The surgery went well, and at a little over 32 weeks, baby Celeste was born weighing 4 pounds, 10 ounces. Akosua said, “When she was born, she cried and looked like a healthy baby.”

After a short stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to ensure her health, Celeste finally went home. Now, at five years old, she is thriving. She walks on her own, enjoys gymnastics and swimming – all things that may not have been possible without fetal surgery. Celeste also enjoys playing with her sister and her favorite characters are Minnie Mouse and Avatar.

As Celeste grows, she will continue to receive care at the Spina Bifida Clinic at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer. Celeste goes to physical therapy weekly and every six months she sees her specialists at the Spina Bifida Clinic including neurosurgery, urology, orthopedics and gastroenterology.

Celeste is smart, playful, determined and kind. Challenges don’t stop her; she finds her way to overcome them. Every day, she continues to amaze her family. Akosua and her family are grateful for the life-changing surgery and the team at Orlando Health who have and continue to support them throughout this journey.