Ecuadorian One-Year Old with Serious Heart Defect Needs Immediate Surgery to Survive

(Miami, January 08, 2008) – Irene Jaramillo is a one-year-old girl from Ecuador that was born with Transposition of Great Vessels & Interatrial Defect. This congenital heart defect is a very serious condition where the connections to the heart chambers of the aorta and pulmonary artery are inverted. Normally, the aorta comes from the left ventricle and the pulmonary artery from the right ventricle. In the case of Irene, the aorta comes from the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery from the left ventricle. This causes the child to have low oxygen blood going to the body, making her mouth, hands and feet blue.  She also frequently suffers from colds that tend to turn into pneumonia.

Irene arrived to Miami on January 4 to undergo surgery at Holtz Children’s Hospital and it is likely to be the only procedure she will need in order to survive. Doctors will perform an Arterial Switch Operation to fix the connection of the aorta and the pulmonary artery to their regular ventricles. This operation, that is not available in her native country, will help restore her circulation back to normal and provide good long-term cardiac function.

“If not corrected, she will die at some point.  What is very unusual about this case is the late presentation and age of surgery, this type of procedure should have been done in the first few weeks of Irene’s life,” said Dr. Satinder Sandhu, Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center.

The International Kids Fund (IKF) is helping to raise $60,000 for Irene’s surgery.  “We ask the community to help this family start this New Year with a healthy baby. It is the best holiday gift we can ever give to Irene,” said María Luisa Chea, executive director of the IKF.  “Help give her a chance to live a full life.”

The infant lives with her parents and one sibling in the city of Guayaquil, located 155 miles from the capital, Quito.  They do not have the resources to pay for the costly operation.  The baby’s mother is a housewife and her father works at a cardboard processing plant.  Because the infant is not a U.S. resident, the public hospital cannot use taxpayers’ money to pay for her treatment. Instead, it is being offered to the International Kids Fund (IKF) at charitable rates. The International Kids Fund (IKF) is a program of the Jackson Memorial Foundation that seeks to provide medical care to children from around the world who cannot be treated within their native country, as well as children living in the United States who, without IKF assistance, would otherwise have no options.

“We are desperate, we do not have the resources to pay for the treatment she needs. That is why we ask the community to help us save our child’s life and make this miracle happen,” said Katty Cerdan, Irene’s mother.

The family learned of the IKF through the case of an Ecuadorian child Dylan Torres that had a similar condition and was successfully operated thanks to the organization’s help.