Nov 19, 2009 7:10 AM by Nicole Vandeputte

Family of 9 hit hard times, but count their blessings

A Southern Colorado family has hit harder times than most of us can imagine. Yet, they stay positive, even thankful.

From dawn until way past dark, Carla and Kevin Atencio and one of their children are at Memorial Hospital. It's been that way for 2 months; ever since their large family was split up.

The Atencios live in Alamosa. They have 7 adopted children. At the beginning of October, their youngest adopted daughter Joy, 9, caught the flu. It's believed to be the H1N1 strain. Carla says, "It was just all of a sudden. It was literally overnight and she ended up with bilateral pneumonia."

She was flown to Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs from their Alamosa home. Since then, she's been in ICU fighting to live. "Emotional. There was a time when doctors said there is nothing they can do. It's up to her," says Carla.

So, they've put their jobs on hold to stay at Joy's bedside. They only leave to sleep for a few hours at the nearby Ronald McDonald house. Carla says, "We've pretty much been here on people's generosity."

Back home their pastor is caring for 5 of their children. Donations have also been pouring in for the family. "For people to come in and do what they've done. It's just been a blessing." Through tears Carla adds, "So my goal is to help somebody next time around."
They say Joy is getting better, but it's a slow recovery. Joy also suffers from angelman syndrome. After Joy is released she will need to stay on a ventilator. Carla says she is having a hard time finding a nurse who specializes in that care in the San Luis Valley. She worries that they might have to move.

Next week, she hopes to have the family together for Thanksgiving in Colorado Springs. She's just not sure where they will all go.


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