Combating Zika: Hope for Teanny's Future

Speeches Shim

Arianny Polanco was diagnosed with Zika while pregnant with her daughter, Teanny, who was born with microcephaly, a birth defect linked with the virus. USAID is strengthening health services to prevent Zika and provide care and support to affected families. By working in Latin America and the Caribbean to control the spread of Zika, USAID is helping reduce travel-related infections and keeping citizens in the United States safe and healthy, while reducing the devastating impacts in affected countries.

Video Transcript 
[Music] I felt many different emotions during my pregnancy with Teanny. I felt happiness, sadness, fear. But above all, happiness, because I was going to have a second baby. San Cristóbal, Dominican Republic. My name is Arianny Cristina Polanco. I'm 30 years old, and I live in San Cristóbal, Dominican Republic. I have two children, Teanny and Joshua. I was diagnosed with Zika when I was eight weeks pregnant with Teanny. It was when my daughter was born that they realized that she had microcephaly, because she had a smaller head than normal, Her brain wasn’t fully developed so she may not develop at the same pace as other babies her age. And that she, well, would not have much time left to live. The doctors told my husband that my daughter had about a month or two to live, and she wouldn’t survive to her first birthday. And I felt bad, really bad. Arianny learned that with proper therapy and support, Teanny could continue to grow and develop. USAID is working to prevent zika and provide care and support to families like Arianny’s. Every Monday I get up at four in the morning and go with my husband to take our daughter Teanny to the hospital, for her therapy. It takes us two hours to get there. The neurologist referred us to physical therapy, to stimulate her hands, feet, and neck, so she could improve her overall development in the future. It’s a big sacrifice but I do it with a lot of love, because I know it will benefit my daughter. At the mother’s support group what really impressed me was seeing people, mothers in particular, who share my same situation. I told myself: "Well, I'm not alone. Here are other people who are also going through the same experience, that also have children with this condition. My hopes for the future of my daughter are that she is able to grow up and develop like other children. That she can walk, talk. That is what I wish for most. And that, well, she could grow without any further complications. Sometimes, our perspectives are clouded, which prevents us from seeing beyond our current situation and seeing that there is hope, that we are strong and can fight to overcome challenges. By preventing the spread of infectious diseases like Zika, USAID reduces devastating health impacts in the U.S. and across the globe.