In her 4th grade class, Natalia has been teased for her small stature and her inability to participate in the same activities as all of the other kids. Outside of the classroom however, Natalia is supported by a large and loving family who live together in a simple, rented apartment just outside of Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Since birth, Natalia has needed extra support due to a congenital heart condition called ostium secundum atrial septal defect (ASD), an opening between the right and left atria of the heart. As Natalia grew, the effects of her condition became more apparent. She was small for her age and her heart became easily overworked, causing fatigue, difficulty breathing, and frequent respiratory infections. While ASDs in some children close spontaneously over time, Natalia's was only getting worse. Local cardiologists determined Natalia's condition had become severe and surgery was needed to prevent further damage to her heart and lungs.

While the cost of surgery seemed unattainable for the family of six, Natalia's parents, siblings, and neighbors rallied to raise funds. With these contributions and a sizeable donation from Dharma Social Programs, Natalia was able to receive the life-saving heart surgery on March 24th with mission surgeon, Dr. Ericka Perez. Through the miraculous convergence of a loving family, skilled surgeons, and the kindness of strangers, Natalia returned home, less than two weeks later, with a newly patched heart and a life that was forever changed.

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