Nataly Vasquez was born in early 2011 in La Paz, Bolivia. Over the course of her first year, her parents noticed she had trouble breathing, sometimes even turning blue. She also failed to gain weight at the proper rate. The family took her for evaluation through her father’s healthcare coverage as an accountant at the La Paz Mayor’s office. Nataly was diagnosed with patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), a congenital disorder in which the ductus arteriosus fails to close after birth. PDA results in irregular transmission of blood between two of the important arteries close to the heart, the pulmonary artery and the aorta.
When Nataly was almost a year old, her father, David, was laid off from his job. With that, he lost his health insurance. Around then it became apparent that surgery would be the only option to correct Nataly’s condition. After a few months unable to find help in La Paz, David and his wife Tatiana, then seven months pregnant, made the difficult decision to leave their 11-year-old daughter in the care of an aunt and to take what was left of their savings and travel with the baby to Cochabamba, where the lower altitude would ease her labored breathing. They had also been told Cochabamba had the specialists Nataly needed.
Nataly was referred to Dr. Gabriel Echazu, who ordered studies at the Clinica Belga to confirm her diagnosis and eligibility for surgery. The family’s savings were running out, and in their search for help to cover the high costs of surgery they were referred to the PuenteSol Foundation. David explained their situation to the social worker:
We are in a very difficult situation because I was laid off of work… In La Paz, they treated my little girl in the [government worker’s insurance program]… but her condition didn’t improve, they were only able to stabilize her. We are living with what savings we have left but it is not much and hopefully my daughter can be operated before the money we came with runs out. We are hopeful God will not abandon us.
Corrective surgery to stitch her ductus closed was performed at the Clinica Belga on August 10, 2012. This surgery was made possible through the financial support of Dharma Trading Co. Nataly responded well, and the family has been reunited at their home in La Paz, allowing David to look for a new job to support his family, which since Nataly’s surgery has happily welcomed a new baby.