Sandra is just like any other Spanish mum. Awaiting for her third child, she's at home with her children doing what we all do: changing their diapers, cleaning their noses, playing with them, or like many other affectionate mothers, kisses them on the lips. But she never imagined what this would do to the child she was carrying in her womb.
Sandra worked until the last day of her pregnancy, and at the hospital everything went as expected. There were no complications and Gonzalo seemed normal, grabbed her breast and looked innocent like every other baby. However, 2 days later, when they were about to leave the hospital, the doctors told Sandra that they needed to do some tests on the child, because he has microcephaly and petechiae on his face.
Sandra is speechless when she hears the diagnose: Gonzalo has cerebral palsy. At first the reason why is unknown. The doctor can’t find anything in Sandra’s medical history and she can only remember having a cold during her first months of pregnancy. And in fact THIS is the reason. Apparently she was infected with a virus called cytomegalovirus.
Sandra is heartbroken when doctors tell her that her child may not be able to recognise her, eat or talk. After 3 days of crying, she decided to fight for her child. A paediatrician from La Paz Hospital in Madrid, told her: "your child will go as far as you want him to". And that was that. Gonzalo is now a child, who can not only recognise his parents, but who also laughs and is happy. Sandra is satisfied with every step her son takes. He can lift his arm now and, to her, that is wonderful.
What Sandra now wants to do is to alert other mothers of this danger. I don’t know if I could have avoided infecting Gonzalo with the illness but I can’t change it now. Therefore, I would like to help prevent this from happening to other people.
Half of all pregnant women are infected with this virus before pregnancy, and therefore, the risks of being infected again are minimal. The problem is when women have it for the first time during their pregnancy. "You can learn about this through a simple test, which is not currently mandatory in Spain, but I would suggest it to be" adds Sandra.
This virus, which in Spain is also known as the "big brother virus“ can be passed on through contact with children. Therefore, it is important to wash your hands after changing diapers, cleaning the childs nose or picking up toys. In the pharmacy they sell a great soap, which is the same as what is used in hospitals. It is important not to kiss children on the lips, and not to share food, glasses, cups, forks or other utensils with small children or people who could be infected with the virus, advised Sandra.
Some people have told her "this only happens to special families". She does not want to be special, she just wants a normal family. But overtime "you realise how lucky I am for having Gonzalito. He is the star of our lives“ tells Sandra. He is also the star of Asociación Campeones, an organisation that raises money to help disabled children, particularly those with cerebral palsy.