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Baby Naya, the warrior princess

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On July 24, a happy family fell in love with a 7-pound baby girl. She had her mother’s eyes and her father’s nose, with a full head of his dark black hair. She seemed healthy.

At the time, Jamie Maraviglia-Manalo was looking forward to a short maternity leave and getting to know her new daughter. As the marketing director for the Clark Center, a nonprofit theater in Arroyo Grande, she had a benefit plan, but it wasn’t great. She was scheduled to be back to work in less than a month, but Maraviglia-Manalo wanted nothing more than to settle into a routine of playtime, snuggling, late-night feedings, and diaper changes.

- MOMENTARY BLISS :  Naya Manalo spent just four days of her life at home with family. She’s currently in critical condition at the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital suffering from edema and a rare lymph node disorder. -  - PHOTO COURTESY OF LINDSAY WAGNER
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF LINDSAY WAGNER
  • MOMENTARY BLISS : Naya Manalo spent just four days of her life at home with family. She’s currently in critical condition at the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital suffering from edema and a rare lymph node disorder.

What she wouldn’t give to change a diaper.

The joy that came with Naya’s birth quickly turned to anxiety as Maraviglia-Manalo and her husband Dan Manalo realized their child wasn’t having bowel movements. She also wasn’t eating.

That anxiety became frustration as the pediatrician referred them to a lactation consultant, who referred them back to the pediatrician, who prescribed a schedule of attempted feedings every two hours.

When Naya began vomiting bile one night, her tiny body convulsing pitifully with the effort, her parents had enough. The frustration spiked to full-blown panic, and they rushed their daughter to the emergency room at French Hospital.

Naya Manalo has fought for her life ever since. In the few dozen days she’s been on Earth, she’s seen the back of an ambulance on the way to a medical center in Santa Barbara, had exploratory surgery as doctors vainly sought a bowel obstruction, and been air lifted to the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles where she remains in critical condition.

“You expect a healthy baby, and that’s what Jamie and Dan deserve,” said Lindsay Wagner, a family friend. “It’s obviously hard, but Jamie’s one of the strongest people I know. I’m thankful for her strength.”

An English major and avid writer, Maraviglia-Manalo has turned to blogging as a means of venting her feelings and documenting her daughter’s progress. She remains hopeful and expresses immense gratitude for the support of family and friends.

“I feel like I somehow caused this to happen,” she wrote after a rare diagnosis of lymphangiectasia finally gave the doctors a plan of attack but not much hope for a permanent cure. Naya may need treatment for years to come.

“All I know is that she doesn’t deserve this, and my husband and son don’t deserve to be dealing with this,” she wrote.

The blog can be found at notesofnaya.blogspot.com.

While these desperate parents stay by their daughter’s side in L.A., neither is working and medical bills are mounting. You can help by donating to Naya’s Fund online at wepay.com/donate/88253 or jackshelpinghand.org. Make donations “for the benefit of Naya Jane Manalo.”

A fundraising picnic for Naya is scheduled for Sept. 18 from 1 to 4 p.m. The event will take place at Filipponi Ranch, 1850 Calle Joaquin in SLO. Tickets cost $25 for adults and $12 for children and include a fish taco meal supplied by Scotty’s Bar and Grill as well as entertainment by local theater and dance performers. There will be raffle tickets, T-shirts, beer, and wine available for purchase.

Search “Naya Manalo” on facebook.com for details.

Calendar Editor Nick Powell compiled this week’s Strokes & Plugs. Send your business and charity news to strokes@newtimesslo.com.

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