The Herrera-Ortega family lives in the rural community of San Lorenzo, where the father, Simón, herds cattle for a local rancher for $100 dollars a month. San Lorenzo only has a primary school, so $30 dollars each month goes to pay boarding expenses for the two oldest children attending middle school in another town. There is little left over for much else, so the family lives simply.
In June 2012 the family welcomed their fourth child, a seemingly healthy girl named Daniela. But a few weeks after taking her home, Daniela began to have persistent fevers, especially overnight. Doctors prescribed medicine to treat the fever, but it had little effect. The family’s nights got even worse when she began to struggle to breathe, sweating profusely and gasping for air. They took her to the Children’s Hospital in the city of Sucre, where doctors suspected the problem was with her heart, and sent them to Santa Cruz. There, cardiologist Dr. Barrientos diagnosed the problem as Patent Ductus Arteriosus. PDA refers to the failure of the fetal blood vessel known as the ductus arteriosus to close after birth, resulting in irregular blood flow between the aorta and the pulmonary artery. This results in excess fluid in the lungs, increasing lung pressure to the point that it is difficult to inflate the lungs to breath. The resulting labored breathing uses a large number of calories, making it even more difficult for the child to gain weight and thrive.
The family finally had an explanation, but their possibilities to treat Daniela’s condition looked impossible. Dr. Barrientos then referred them to the Santa Cruz office of Solidarity Bridge, where Daniela’s mother, Adela, explained their situation to the social worker:
...We are people who work in the countryside and don’t have enough income, but our little girl’s life is at stake, so we are doing everything possible to save her.
After confirming the family’s financial situation, Daniela was approved for support through the Solidarity Bridge children’s heart program. Dr. Barrientos and his team at Clínica InCor in Santa Cruz performed Daniela’s delicate surgery on February 27th, 2014. Simón and Adela are grateful to all those who played a part to “restore our hope to see our daughter healthy.” That gratitude is extended to all those connected to Dharma Trading Co., which since 2005 has been funding heart surgeries like Daniela’s, savings dozens of lives and restoring hope to families all over Bolivia.