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Coral Gables

Wine, women & shoes highlight Miami Children’s Hospital fundraiser


South Florida News Service

When Luna Martinez was born she, like most babies, took her first breath.

Three hours later, however, those breaths did not come easily.

Doctors at South Miami Hospital, where she was born, immediately transferred her to Miami Children’s Hospital, where she was hooked up to a machine that allows the person’s blood to receive oxygen from the machine’s lung. Then, it is hoped, the heart and lungs will work on their own.

For Luna, that didn’t happen.

Dr. Redmond Burke, director of the hospital’s cardiovascular surgery, discovered she had a rare web-like formation in her heart called Chiari Malformation, present in only 2 to 3 percent of the population. Burke operated on her to solve the issue.

“I was terrified at the news of her diagnosis, yet I was hopeful she would survive,” said Vanessa Martinez, 26, Luna’s mother. “I don't know what I would have done if Luna wouldn't have made it.”

Now, the 2-year old is healthy, although she must visit the cardiologist at least once a year for the rest of her life. She is one of the many children who benefitted from the more than $450,000 raised last year at the Wine, Women & Shoes event. This year, the third annual fundraiser will be Thursday at the Coral Gables Country Club.

Luna was the “star” child at last year’s event.

Co-chairs Criselda Breene and Carola Pimentel said the goal for this year’s event, which is sold out, is $600,000. In its three years, Wine, Women and Shoes has raised about $750,000 for Miami Children’s.

“I think it’s fantastic that we are raising awareness and support for the children that we serve,” said Dr. Plato Alexander, cardiac pediatric intensive care unit physician and veteran “Shoe Guy,” the doctors, nurses and foundation volunteers who present the latest shoe styles on a silver platter.

“Luna’s bills were over $900,000,” said Martinez, which she said the foundation paid.

Today, Luna loves to play dress-up, paint and take swimming and music lessons.

“I see Luna as a happy, healthy little girl. I see her future bright and full of more blessings,” said Martinez. “I celebrate her life every day.’’

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