By Carola Contreras, Children’s Heart Project coordinator in Bolivia
Danitza Orellana Jalacori grew up in Potosi, Bolivia, a city 13,320 feet above sea level. She started having respiratory problems when she was 13, but her family didn’t think they were serious.
The problem still persisted a year later, and her mother decided to take her to a doctor. The pediatrician heard a heart murmur but didn’t seem to think it was dangerous. Everyone was put at ease. But Danitza’s health continued to worsen. She went back to the doctor, who suggested she go to La Paz to see a specialist and get an echocardiogram.
In La Paz, Danitza was diagnosed with an atrial septal defect (ASD) in her heart. In September of 2010, a pediatric cardiologist working with Children’s Heart Project visited our office and confirmed the diagnosis. Immediately, her medical files were sent out with high priority to various hospitals around the United States, requesting surgery.
To everyone’s delight, she was accepted at a hospital in North Carolina and had life-saving surgery three months before turning 19.
What stands out most from this case is Danitza’s age. CHP does not accept candidates once they have turned 19 because of the risks involved. Had more time passed, she likely would have had a much shorter lifespan. Danitza received a miracle just in time.
What she most remembers about her time in the United States were the devotionals she had with her interpreter. She is thankful to God for not only providing the surgery, but also for the gift of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that she received when she was in her host home.
“Besides needing surgery I knew I needed God, and as a result of this sickness I gave my life to Him,” Danitza said. “I can now see that there was a purpose in everything that happened.”
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, NIV).