‘I’m Super Stella!’
While her ambition is to one day become a doctor, or a tiger, the newest — and arguably the youngest — human to join the superhero ranks is 5-year-old Stella Rodriguez. Stella is being treated for hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) and pulmonary vein stenosis – both affecting blood flow through the heart.
Stella’s care team, led by Pediatric Cardiologist Juan C. Alejos, MD and a growing legion of Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center staff, has witnessed the marvel of her upbeat personality and genuine affection toward her mother, Shereene and father, Samuel. The bond is most evident with her sisters, Lyla and Darla. And though living in Las Vegas, separated by almost 300 miles, Samuel, Layla and Darla maintain their bond by making frequent visits to spend time with Stella and her mom, who often stays with her superhero daughter.
Stella was invited to attend Lollipop Theatre’s Superhero Ball — a fashion show-style event where patients from local children’s hospitals are given superhero makeovers by Hollywood costume designers and artists. Stella was not well enough to attend the event so, on June 8, 2023, Lollipop Theatre and her UCLA Health care team brought the event to her.
Roaring down the halls toward the Teammates for Kids Child Life Zone at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital, Stella and her entire family found a red-carpet affair in what usually would be an innovative play refuge — no medical procedures allowed — for pediatric patients.
Memorable, non-medical experiences in Pediatrics provide monumental rewards for patients and their families.
“I want Stella to keep thriving and be the strong little girl that she has been since day one,” said Shereene Aguilar. “When she grows up, she wants to be a doctor or a tiger. She already has a lion heart."
Our cameras were there to capture the moment Super Stella burst onto the scene.