A little more than a year ago, Glenda Morató made it across the Mexico-U.S. border in an old, Russian-made wheelchair, accompanied by her mother. She was neither able to speak nor take care of herself.
Both women had fled Cuba some eight months earlier, leaving everything behind, with the hope that Glenda could receive better medical treatment in the U. S. and have a better life.
The young woman, who suffered from preeclampsia, suffered a brain hemorrhage in a Havana hospital in July 2010 while she was giving birth to her daughter. Preeclampsia is associated with hypertension during pregnancy and is considered the most common and dangerous disorder during pregnancy, but can be treated quickly if diagnosed timely.
For the past three years, Glenda, 27, have been unable to move or speak. Though she understands what is going on around her, she can only react by blinking repeatedly.
Glendas parents, Enrique Morató and Lucía Suárez, blame their daughters condition on medical malpractice and lack of adequate treatment in Havana.
Now the family lives in a small apartment close to Doral. Glenda has a better wheelchair, receives physical therapy and is seen by a doctor every two weeks at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Yet Suárez and Morató worry that they cannot help their daughter with her biggest wish and that is to see her own daughter Carolina, now 3. She remained behind in Havana with her father.
Life changes and you dont realize when or how, Suárez said about the ordeal her family has gone through. We didnt want to leave the girl in Cuba but we could not risk crossing the border with such a small child.
Glenda and her parents have applied for residency and are waiting for their documents to start the process of bringing little Carolina and her father over from Cuba.
Meanwhile, Suárez takes care of Glenda while Morató works driving a food truck to industrial sites around Miami-Dade. He had a previous job working at Miami International Airport and cleaning department stores.
Glenda was nominated for Wish Book by the non-profit organization Spinal Cord Living-Assistance Development, Inc., (SCLAD), which provides services for disabled persons.
The familys Wish Book needs are a wheelchair accessible van to transport Glenda to appointments more comfortably. Or, they need their 2004 Honda Oddyssey minivan retrofitted with proper ramps and height adjustment to accommodate the wheelchair.
Now, the parents push the wheelchair to the van, then Suárez takes struggles to get her daughter into the van. Then, with the help of her husband, they get the wheelchair into the trunk.
In that hustle and bustle, she sometimes hurts her legs and gets bruises, said Morató. We dont like to keep Glenda enclosed in the house. We have to take her to doctors, but her transportation becomes difficult.
Angelina Rodríguez, director of programs at SCLAD, said she is moved by the familys commitment to their daughter and understands their financial limitations.
Shes a very young woman and doctors dont see progress in her condition, Rodriguez said. But I dont like to think that improvement is not possible, particularly when she is surrounded by people who take care of her and motivate her.
Glendas parents worry that their daughter will never be able to speak or walk again. Sometimes, though, she surprises her parents when she hears the voice of her daughter Carolina over the telephone, Suárez said.
I know that kissing and hugging her daughter would be her biggest motivation, Suárez said. It will fill her with new life and give her the desire to get up and move forward.