Reporting Liz Collin
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A little girl from Peru found lifesaving help in Minnesota just in time. Valeria Vasquez, 6, has made front-page news in Peru for months. Her family is sure it would have had a much different ending if not for some Minnesota doctors.
The way Valeria navigates a playground, you’d never know all that’s happened to make her healthy and keep her family by her side.
Her story first made headlines in Lima, Peru last year. Valeria’s parents, Jessica Acuna and Diego Vasquez are both doctors but weren’t prepared for such personal news.
“She was very healthy and suddenly they told us that she needed a heart transplant. So it was very hard for us,” Acuna said.
A rare viral infection had attacked Valeria’s heart. Doctors in Peru have never done a heart transplant in a child. In Peru, there’s no donor program in the country and her family was told it would cost more than a million dollars.
“I was asking for a miracle for her. I knew that the only thing that can save her is a miracle,” her mother said.
On the same day the Vasquez’s were told Valeria wouldn’t make it, the Peruvian government agreed to pay for her procedure wherever they could find it.
“I told them, ‘Well I have it. I have the place,’” Valeria’s father said.
Hours later, they arrived at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital. Valeria was hooked up to a Berlin Heart and received a new heart this summer.
Dr. Rebecca Ameduri is the Medical Director of Pediatric Heart Transplants. She said it took weeks to get everything together.
“She was near death when she got to us,” Ameduri said.
Valeria’s own family had even more happen. Her mom gave birth to her baby sister just 10 days before their trip to Minnesota.
“All the people here gave us so much hope and confidence … We feel very good here,” Valeria’s mother said.
The family has made a new home at the Ronald McDonald House. Valeria’s story is touching people in a new country where her family found the answer to their prayers.
“Keep the faith, ask God and never give up.” Valeria’s mother said.
The family will be going home to Peru in December for a month-long stay. Valeria will have to come back to Minnesota to be monitored by doctors until at least this summer.
You can help the Vasquez family and follow their story, click on the links below.