Milenka Paredes studied hard and earned her degree with the plan to pursue a career as a mathematics professor. Her goal was to be self-sufficient and enjoy a higher standard of living than her parents, hard-working farmers from the town of Sacaba, just outside of Cochabamba, Bolivia.
Milenka’s plans were abruptly put on hold in early 2013 when she found herself a single mother of a very sick baby. Her son Dilan was born with the most common congenital heart defect, called a ventricular septal defect or VSD. The membrane between his left and right heart ventricles failed to close upon birth, producing what is commonly referred to as a left-to-right shunt. While this condition often resolves on its own, Dilan’s case was severe enough that by five months of age he presented severe pulmonary hypertension. His heart was at risk of imminent failure, and urgent surgical repair became his only chance for survival.
Dilan was evaluated by Dr. Joaquin Navarro at Clínica Belga in Cochabamba. When Dr. Navarro explained the situation to Milenka, she shared with him her predicament. Since his birth, Dilan’s breathing and eating difficulties and persistent colds and infections had forced Milenka to give up working more than a few hours a week as a substitute teacher, earning barely enough to pay for his diapers. Dilan’s father abandoned them, forcing Milenka to move in with her parents, causing financial strain for them as well. It was clear that Milenka could not afford the life-saving surgery. Dr. Navarro then referred her to Solidarity Bridge’s office in Cochabamba, PuenteSol. Dilan received his surgery at the Clínica Belga on September 9, 2013, and remained in the pediatric cardiac unit for ten days before being sent home with his mother and grandparents. This surgery was made possible through the financial support of Dharma Trading Company. Once he fully recovers and trusting that Dilan will soon be a healthy toddler, Milenka is determined to go back to work as soon as possible so that she and her son can enjoy the financial security and secure future they deserve.