Frisco teen secures life-saving surgery for Honduran child

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by TERESA WOODARD

WFAA

Posted on May 10, 2014 at 8:25 AM

Updated Thursday, May 15 at 10:45 AM

FRISCO -- Hidden behind perfect sparkling eyes and a perfect six-year-old smile is an imperfect heart.

"She has what's called a 'ventricular septal defect,' which, in short, that's pretty much a hole in the heart," Ashley Nguyen said.

Ashley is just a teenager, but she's perfectly comfortable talking in highly-technical terms about Eva Hernandez's condition.

"You know, there are some side effects -- shortness of breath, she might get tired easily," Ashley explained.

A senior at Frisco High School, Ashley is about one month from graduation. Six-year-old Eva is from Honduras and has to walk one hour just to get to school.

"I've heard she lives in a house, or in a village, with no plumbing," Ashley said.

Ashley and Eva have very little in common -- just that one needs help, and one is giving it.

Eva was expected to land at D/FW Airport late Friday night. And next Thursday, Children's Medical Center pediatric heart surgeon Dr. Kristine Guleserian will repair the hole in Eva's heart, thanks to Ashley's giving heart.

Ashley sold bracelets at school, created a website, and solicited donations from strangers.

"So far, we've raised $11,400," she said.

It all went to a charity called HeartGift.

"We work with children who have congenital heart defects that can be healed in one surgery," said executive director of HeartGift's Dallas chapter, Barbara Johnson. "We fix the children's hearts, and we welcome them into the community, and we send them home happy and healthy for life."

Johnson said Ashley's determination and her goals are impressive. She will be in the operating room, shadowing Dr. Guleserian, who is her mentor. And someday, Ashley plans to be in there working.

"That's exactly what I want," she said.

E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com

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