Smiths Station toddler defies doctors by taking first steps

Smiths Station toddler defies doctors by taking first steps

LEE COUNTY, AL (WTVM) - A Smiths Station family is speaking out about their toddler's rare health condition and an upcoming golf tournament they are holding to help her beat the odds.

The Collazo family says doctor's told them their daughter, Jazlyn would never walk or talk due to a medical condition called Holoprosencephaly, or HPE.

Jazlyn, who is almost two now, was diagnosed when she was four months old.

According to the Natural Living Center, only three percent of babies diagnosed with HPE are born alive and most die before the age of six months. According to the Natural Living Center, the causes of HPE are not fully understood.

"So many children pass away ranging from different ages. It just hits home. Some of them are three years old," Vanessa Collazo said, Jazlyn's mother.

Frankie and Vanessa Collazo say they were torn when they received their daughter's diagnosis. As a mother, Vanessa says she felt responsible.

"I went through a few stages of denial and guilt. I felt like I did something wrong. I was carrying her, so I felt like I should have done better in my pregnancy," Vanessa said.

Normally, the brain splits into two halves during the early stages of pregnancy but with HPE the baby's brain does not divide properly causing a number of different side effects.

Children with HPE struggle with intellectual disabilities, muscle disorders that prevent them from walking, facial malformations, sleep disorders and underdeveloped organs.

"The one thing they could tell us, don't expect her to ever walk, don't expect her to ever talk."

The Collazo's say their daughter is in therapy sometimes up to six days a week but the sacrifice is worth it. They say there is no price you can put to seeing your child achieve something that Doctor's said was impossible.

"To see her even if it is with help taking steps I mean it was so encouraging for us and I mean to most people, the little things that she does is major," Frankie said.

In the first year the family received about $70,000 in medical expenses and they say doctors told them that they can expect about $40,000 a year going forward.

On Nov. 13 they will hold a golf tournament and proceeds will go towards Jaz's therapy, medication and appointments. For details on the fundraiser visit

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