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May 9, 2013 10:12 AM by Samantha Ptashkin

Baby girl in hospice teaches family to cherish the precious moments

TUCSON- We anticipate the inevitable death of a parent, or a grandparent.

But when it comes to a child, that is a death no parent can anticipate, or even accept.

For the family of one-year-old Anais Zamorano, it's a tragic reality striking them for the second time in seven years.

Anais was born with a chromosome abnormality. It's the same one that killed her brother Lolo in 2006. He was just three-years-old. "I'm very strong in my faith and I thought if God was going to send her to me this way, then there's nothing that doctors can do to change it," says Mariana Zamorano, Anais' mother.

The thought of losing another child is unbearable. Even Anais' four-year-old sister Rafaela feels the pain. "If she goes to heaven, my heart's crossed out," Rafaela says.

It's a thought that ticks through their minds 'round the clock.

But this time around the family has someone to turn to. "It's really important for these families to have a witness to what they're going through," says Amy Olson.

Olson is a pediatric hospice nurse for Tucson Medical Center. It's the only pediatric hospice program in Southern Arizona.

Olson is part of a support team on call 24/7 to help the families. "We're never going to make it better, we're never going to make it okay to lose your child, but what we can do is say to the parents yes this happened, yes this was awful," Olson.

The nurses and social workers do art projects and other activities with the families to help them through the process.

Since the program started six years ago, 69 children have died, but they die far from the hospital with their families by their side. "We get to be home and enjoy her, love her and be a family, instead of having to constantly be at the hospital," Mariana says.

No one is certain how much time Anais has left. But her family still holds out hope. "My biggest hope is that we just grow old with each other," Mariana says. "I hope she's with me and I can take care of her."

No matter what happens, Mariana says Anais and Lolo are blessings in disguise because they have taught her to cherish life's precious moments.

For more information about TMC's Pediatric Hospice Program visit:

www.tmcaz.com/TucsonMedicalCenter/Hospice/In-HomeCare/Children%27s_Hospice

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