Meet Cole Salerno

Cole Salerno was just a few days old when his mom, Victoria, felt something was wrong.  He wasn’t eating well, he was suffering from GI issues, and he was in pain. It seemed that all he could do was sleep.  “The doctors would tell me not to worry, that I was a new mother and Cole just had colic,” she remembers.   Victoria’s intuition was telling her otherwise.  Cole would spend the next year of his life in and out of hospitals while doctors would try to determine what was happening with Cole.  In 2018, diagnostic testing revealed Cole, who is now three years old, has mitochondrial disease.  Victoria and her husband, Jason, are awaiting further testing to determine the type of his disease.

Victoria and Jason were overjoyed when Cole was born.  The couple struggled with infertility for five years.   They went through the pain of seven miscarriages.  “He is such a miracle and always smiling,” Victoria said about Cole.  “It doesn’t matter what he goes through, he is always smiling.  He’s the bravest little boy”.  This is why UMDF chose Cole and his family to be highlighted in our 2019 Give Energy Holiday Campaign.

Like most patient families, frequent hospital stays were normal for Cole.  Doctors spent months trying to figure out why Cole would be in pain after eating and why he was having symptoms that would later be diagnosed as a mitochondrial disease.   It was late at night in Cole’s hospital room that Victoria would reach out to a UMDF Ambassador and be connected to the UMDF.

“The UMDF does an incredible job in getting information and resources into the hands of the patients and families who desperately need it,” Victoria says.  “I know that I have a community of support behind me, and I have resources that I can tap to help Cole.”  The Salernos’ only wish for the New Year is that Cole remains healthy.  It’s their hope that patients and families know that they are not alone as we move faster toward treatments and cures.