March of Dimes Names 13-Year Old Boy From Puerto Rico

December 15, 2015

Ismael Torres-Castrodad of San Juan, Puerto Rico, born five weeks prematurely, has been named the March of Dimes 2016 National Ambassador. He’s the first child from Puerto Rico to be named to this position in the history of the March of Dimes.

Ismael and his parents, Isamari and Ismael Sr., revealed their story in the January 2016 issue of Good Housekeeping, on newsstands nationwide today. Ismael also appeared alongside his parents on “The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson” on Fox News Channel today to make the announcement.

Ismael’s story emphasizes the serious and complex problem of late preterm birth, (between 34-36 weeks of pregnancy). His story will resonate with millions of families because more than 70 percent of all preterm babies are born in this late preterm time frame, the March of Dimes says. And like so many other mothers of preemies, Isamari Castrodad did everything she could to have a healthy, full-term baby but Ismael still was born too soon.

Preterm birth is the number one killer of babies, and those who survive an early birth often face serious and sometimes lifelong health challenges, such as breathing problems, jaundice, developmental delays, vision loss, and cerebral palsy. Even babies born just a few weeks too soon have higher rates of death and disability than full-term babies.

After being hospitalized during her pregnancy for having low amniotic fluid, Ms. Castrodad turned to the March of Dimes to learn more about her condition. She says the information gave her confidence to ask more questions at her next visit with her doctor about her pregnancy and the tests she might need. She asked to have her amniotic fluid re-checked, and it was found to be dangerously low again. Ismael was born 48 hours later by emergency c-section. Six days after he was discharged from the hospital, he developed jaundice as well as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a lung infection, and pneumonia, and had to be re-hospitalized.

Today, Ismael is an active 13-year-old who excels in school and loves playing soccer and singing. He has asthma, but no longer requires daily treatment for it. He enjoys working as an “assistant producer” for his mother’s TV show, "Mas Con Isamari Castrodad" (“More with Isamari Castrodad”). Most of all, Ismael loves sharing his story, his parents, say. During his year as National Ambassador, the family will travel the USA, compliments of United Airlines, to tell their story and support the March of Dimes mission to improve the health of babies in both English and Spanish.

When Isamari Castrodad tells her story, she emphasizes that women must develop an open dialogue with their doctors and not to be afraid ask questions and advocate for themselves. She often speak outs about the importance of preconception care and how women can educate and empower themselves even before they become pregnant. She has been Chair of the March of Dimes in Puerto Rico, and served as the March for Babies 2013 Chair in Puerto Rico.

The March of Dimes National Ambassador Program is an annual campaign, started in 1946, that puts a face on the March of Dimes mission. United Airlines will continue to serve as the official airline sponsor of the March of Dimes National Ambassador Program for the 11th consecutive year.

See a video of the family’s inspirational story and learn more about Ismael at Follow the family throughout the year as they travel the country on Read more about their story in the January issue of Good Housekeeping, or online at