Diego was born in Puebla, Mexico, with bilateral microtia, a rare birth defect that left both his ears undeveloped, inside and out. Even with a hearing aid amplifying sound, Diego said his world was almost silent. His mother, Alma, sought help for her son, but could not afford the surgeries needed. She reached out to Small Wonders Foundation and Diego became our first funding recipient.

Diego and Alma traveled to California for the first time. Pediatric plastic surgeon Dr. John Reinisch created for Diego artificial ears and neuro-otologist Dr. Joseph Roberson created for him ear canals and drums.

Overall, it took three surgeries within the span of two days to fully create Diego’s ears. Finally, Diego was able to hear his mother’s voice clearly for the first time at age 12. Soon after he was back to gymnastics and could enjoy the roar of the crowd at his competitions.

Today, Diego is a gymnast, college student and a spokesperson for Small Wonders Foundation. “Small Wonders and Dr. Reinisch made by dreams come true,” said Diego. “Meeting these wonderful people changed my life. They give people hope.”