Honduran child receives life-saving surgery in Dallas

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by TERESA WOODARD

WFAA

Posted on May 15, 2014 at 10:35 AM

Updated Thursday, May 15 at 6:57 PM

DALLAS -- On a bike, up some steps, down a slide; 6-year-old Eva Hernandez rarely stops.

"She would only rest at night when she sleeps because all day she's in constant activity," said Dilcia Hernandez, through a translator.

She is 100 percent kid. But her heart is not 100 percent right.

Eva Hernandez is from a small village in Honduras. She and her mother spent Wednesday night at the Ronald McDonald House in Dallas before a life-changing Thursday morning.

"They're gonna do an operation," said Eva in Spanish.

When Eva was 6 months old, a doctor diagnosed her with a heart condition. She had a hole in her heart.

"Between the ventricles there is a muscular tissue called the ventricular septum, and she has a hole there," explained Children's Medical Center surgeon Dr. Kristine Guleserian. "Because of that hole, she has too much blood flow that gets to her lungs, so her symptoms are that she has poor weight gain and she breathes fast."

"She's a teeny tiny little girl," Guleserian added. "Six years old and weighs what a 3 or 4-year-old would weigh."

Eva had no access to the expert kind of care she could receive at Children's Medical Center. That's where two charities -- HeartGift and Samaritan's Purse -- came into the picture. They worked together to get Eva to Dallas so Dr. Guleserian could save her life. 

"Without this surgery she would develop progressive heart failure and die," Dr. Guleserian said.

Eva's mother knew that was the reality if her daughter couldn't get help.

"The biggest treasure God has given me, and I ask God to give me the strength to endure everything," Dilcia said with tears in her eyes.

Eva had an angel in the operating room in the form of a high school senior from Frisco. Ashley Nguyen, 18, raised $11,000 on her own for HeartGift. Dr. Guleserian is one of Ashley's mentors.  When Ashley learned about the HeartGift program, she wanted to help.

"She's just remarkable. There are very few people like Ashley," said Dr. Guleserian. "She's going to be a super star. Just wait."

Ashley wants to be a pediatric heart surgeon, just like her mentor. Both of them obviously have giving hearts.

And now Eva has a healthy heart to match.

E-mail: twoodard@wfaa.com

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