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Pablo and Damaris Sánchez found out they were having a little girl 20 weeks into their pregnancy. But the exciting news took an unfortunate turn when they were informed that their baby, soon to be named Nataly, had a critical congenital heart defect (CHD). The aorta in Nataly’s heart was narrower than usual. This could lead to normal or high blood pressure in the head and arms, and lower blood pressure and weak pulses in the legs. Fortunately, a corrective surgery could be performed immediately after birth.
When Nataly came into the world on July 9, 2020, doctors discovered the true extent of Nataly’s condition: She had a hole on the left side of her heart and a rare condition called “anomalous left coronary artery from the pulmonary artery,” which required emergency surgery. At just 1 week old, Nataly would have to undergo not one, but two life-saving surgeries.
Luckily, they were in the best hands. Nataly was being treated in the Betty Irene Moore Children’s Heart Center at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, one of the leading pediatric heart centers in the nation.
“The plan was for her to get strong,” says her father, Pablo.
Nataly persevered through many complications, including low blood pressure, blood clots, and a stomach infection. The care team members and specialists at our hospital made the Sánchezes feel comforted in knowing that Nataly and their whole family were being looked after and loved.
“We are grateful to have had Dr. Meghna Patel as our primary attending doctor,” Pablo says. “She always gave us hope that everything is going to be fine.”
While Nataly was being taken care of, our hospital also brought comfort to her family. Even though her 3-year-old brother, Pablo Jr., couldn’t be in the hospital due to COVID-19 protocols, our Child Life and Creative Arts team helped from afar, providing books and resources to help big brother understand what was happening with his baby sister.
“For six months, [our son] Pablo was going from house to house. No one else could be at the hospital, just my wife and me. It was hard,” says Pablo, thankful for their supportive family and friends. “Everyone was rallying around us.”
Meanwhile, Nataly did get stronger. Five months after she was born, she was extubated from her breathing tube, and six months later she left the hospital with her family. The Sánchez family is forever grateful for Nataly’s care team of doctors and nurses who cheered them on as they departed from our hospital and went home to Daly City to meet her big brother for the first time.
“I felt that I was supposed to be the one clapping for them instead of them clapping for us. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have been able to go home,” Pablo says. “It was a team effort.”
Nataly’s fight continues—she will need further monitoring and frequent visits to our hospital.
Thanks to your generous donations to our hospital, Nataly and other patients like her will receive world-class care, and their families can be comforted during the most challenging moments of their lives.
“As a father who went through this ordeal,” Pablo says, “I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Donate now to help kids like Nataly receive the care and comfort they need.
This article originally appeared in the Fall 2021 issue of Packard Children’s News.