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A fighter from the beginning

“A mother has that instinct and knows when things aren’t right.” Gloria Herrera recalls the first seven months of her son Danillo’s life -the majority spent in the hospital.

Born a preemie at 32 weeks old and with Down Syndrome, the Peckville family was devastated when Geisinger pediatric cardiologist Dr. Karen Lurito discovered little DJ had been born with three holes in his heart.

“He had shortness of breath, his nose was so compacted, he couldn’t feed so he wasn’t taking his bottle. All I did was cry and pray.”

Despite the challenges, the Herrera family found solace under Dr. Lurito’s care.

“I feel like I have a doctor in my family. I don’t care if it was 11 p.m. or 2 a.m., she was there to answer my calls.” Today at age three, DJ is thriving and just started an early special education program. He sees Dr. Lurito once a year for his annual checkup- a far cry from the weekly appointments he once needed. “He was a fighter from the beginning. Now he’s a champ.”