CEDAR HILL — There were giggles and splashes and a wide, never-ending smile in a beautiful backyard swimming pool in Cedar Hill.
Wednesday was not just Eva Hernandez's first swim of the summer; it was the first swim ever in a pool so clear and blue. And the first swim ever with a heart that works just exactly like it should.
"Thank God. It is a miracle," said Eva's mother, Dilcia Hernandez.
On May 15, her six-year-old daughter was on the operating table for a four-hour surgery to repair a hole in her heart. It was a life-saving operation not possible in the remote Honduran village where the Hernandez family lives.
"That was the most painful day for me," Hernandez said through an interpreter. "I felt that I had no hope, but then God gave me the strength, and the people that were with me were incredible."
The charity HeartGift brought Eva to Dallas for the surgery, thanks in large part to Ashley Nguyen, a teenager from Frisco. Ashley wants to be a pediatric heart surgeon, and she raised $11,000 for HeartGift.
Samaritan's Purse and HeartGift worked together to make Eva's surgery a reality, and volunteers have been by the family's side the entire time.
The surgery was a total success.
"I've seen her recover so fast, it's incredible," Hernandez said. "I just thank my God and the doctors. They did such a good job. I am thankful... immensely."
"Now my daughter will have a normal life," Hernandez added. "She'll grow up to have a life like anyone."
She expressed deep appreciation for everyone who has helped.
"The community — they're wonderful, amazing people," Hernandez said.
That includes the couple from Cedar Hill who opened their home to Eva, her mom and an interpreter as the six-year-old recovers.
Their sparkling pool and the kindness of so many strangers has made Eva feel like she's never felt before.
"She said that the houses are like castles here," Hernandez said "She really likes princesses!"
She deserves the royal treatment as she celebrates her happy and healthy heart.