Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Three Studios. One Family.

Spoiler alert - Dan is blogging so the expletives may not run rampant on this post :)

My daughter, Naya Jane Manalo, passed away on September 14, 2011... 6 months ago today. And during these last 6 months (including the 7 weeks in hospitals), my work (LEVEL Studios) has been incredibly supportive.

Three Studios. One Family. This is a phrase that I've heard at LEVEL for the 3 years that I've been here (actually 3 years yesterday). It now has new meaning to me based on the events that have transpired over the last year. Here’s why…

My daughter, Naya, was born on July 24th. She was full term and everything seemed fine after the delivery. But we soon noticed that she was sleepier than normal for a newborn, was not feeding well and was not pooping. After daily trips to the pediatrician to have her checked out, we ultimately got so concerned with her inability to feed and poop that we took her to the ER.

After a couple x-rays, the ER thought she had a bowel obstruction and so they scheduled for an ambulance to take us down to Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara for surgery. That ride down was one of the scariest hours of my life as I held my daughter on the gurney in the back of the ambulance.

When we arrived in SB, doctors and nurses began swarming in an attempt to triage her various ailments. She was given antibiotics and was rushed into surgery, which then turned into the next scariest hours of my life as my wife and I waited. It turned out that there wasn’t a bowel obstruction, but that she had e.coli sepsis and that her lungs were very sick.

We spent 10 days in Santa Barbara while we watched and waited for our daughter to recover. Fortunately, one of my close friends from work was able to help us out by letting us stay at one of his family member’s house which was within a mile of the hospital. The support from both him and my work had only just begun.

On hospital day 11, she was getting closer to kidney failure and it was decided that she would need to be transferred to a level 4 NICU at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. It was determined that she would be helicoptered down, and so my wife and I proceeded to make the next leg of this traumatic journey by driving down. During the drive out of SB, we watched in the distance as her helicopter rushed down to LA.

LEVEL Studios continued to support us by helping to secure hotel lodging in LA while we waited for a room at the local Ronald McDonald house. Luckily, a room soon opened and we were within walking distance to the hospital. During this stint, I was grateful to see my coworkers continue to support me by not only covering my projects, but by sending thoughtful emails, texts and organizing a local fundraiser. At one point, 2 of my clients even drove down from a Las Vegas convention to spend an afternoon with me and my wife.

We were in LA for 5 and ½ weeks which turned into the longest rollercoaster of our lives… a rollercoaster laden with daily life and death decisions that ended in my wife and I holding our daughter in our arms as she peacefully passed.

Even now, I continue to receive support from my LEVEL family. My wife and I decided that we want to give back to the community through education and fundraising, and so we signed up for the March of Dimes: March for Babies yearly walk event. The LEVEL team has taken time out of their days to listen to Naya’s story and help increase overall awareness. Their donations/participation in the walk support March of Dimes research and programs which help moms have full-term pregnancies and most importantly, help babies begin healthy lives. These generous gifts will also be used to bring comfort and information to families with a baby in the newborn intensive care units.

If anyone would like to participate in this year's March of Dimes: March for Babies event with us, here are the walk details.
April 28, 2012
Bishop Ranch 2 & Iron Horse Trail
2686 Bishop Drive
On the corner of Bishop Drive and Camino Ramon
San Ramon, CA 94583

For more information on the March of Dimes: March for Babies, please go to:

If you would like to make a donation, you can visit either my wife's personal page at or mine at

If you would like to join the team to walk and raise money, you can visit the team page at 

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