By Mong Jimenez, Field Communication Specialist
On the day of hearts, let us discover the journey of a little girl who battled a severe heart condition. Thanks to World Vision, she was given the opportunity to heal her broken heart.
Crystal, then 7 years old, and her grandmother Dolores, who raised her since she was an infant.
It was 7 AM in Negros Occidental, Philippines. The morning sun had just emerged from behind the towering Mount Canlaon. Children with newly washed hair and bulky bags were heading to school – excitement and joy evident on their faces. One girl, however, sat idly outside her home as she watched her playmates pass by. She had been missing class for days already.
Crystal was 7 years old when we met her. A thin girl with tousled hair, she was mostly quiet. On that particular morning, she was worried because she was not able to submit her homework that was due three days ago. A run of dry cough broke her silence.
In the kitchen, Crystal’s grandmother Dolores was busy cooking scrambled eggs for breakfast but her mind was preoccupied with something else. “Crystal has been missing her classes because of her condition,” the grandmother worriedly shared. “It gets worse every day.”
Crystal has always been sickly. Her grandmother volunteered to raise and take care of her while both her parents work away from home. Her father, Ferdinand, is a security guard who earns the minimum wage each day. Her mother used to be a house helper but she stopped working to take care of Crystal’s siblings.
Crystal was accustomed to her recurring ailments. She usually went to school despite enduring a dry cough or a mild fever. But there were also days when she was forced to miss classes because of a severe flu or breathing complications.
Crystal was diagnosed with a congenital heart disease that causes many serious ailments like flu and pneumonia.
Worried about her granddaughter’s ailment, Dolores accompanied Crystal to the city hospital for a check-up. She was devastated when she learned that Crystal was diagnosed with a congenital heart disease. “According to the attending doctor, the heart disease was already present when she was born,” Dolores discussed. “It is the reason why she often got sick even when she was still an infant.”
The attending physician recommended a heart operation at the most immediate time to prevent other serious ailments to develop.
Dolores felt discouraged, knowing that a single heart operation would be too expensive for their family to afford. Crystal’s parents could not even buy a plane ticket to Manila, where the only public hospital that can offer cardiac surgery is located. Crystal’s parents were also shocked when they discovered the check-up result.
Every week that passed by was a struggle for Crystal and her family. Their accumulated savings were not enough to shoulder the heart operation and Crystal’s health got weaker significantly.
The situation seemed hopeless.
But somehow, a glimpse of hope shined upon Crystal when child-focused organization World Vision selected her as a sponsored child. She and thousands of other children in her community began benefiting from the organization’s development projects in education, health and nutrition, economic development, and disaster risk reduction. The sponsored children also became involved in regular child monitoring activities.
World Vision staff closely monitored Crystal after they learned about her condition. The organization helped shoulder her check-up and medical expenses whenever she developed a flu or a severe cough.
A World Vision Malaysia Youth Mobiliser plays with Crystal during a Philippine trip last November 2015.
On November 2015, a team from World Vision Malaysia visited Crystal’s community. They were saddened to hear about her condition during an interaction activity and left Crystal’s house full of sympathy and purpose. Crystal and her family were hopeful that help would come.
The World Vision team brought Crystal’s story to Malaysia and initiated a fundraising campaign for her heart operation. Thankfully, many supported the project and the team raised more than enough to cover Crystal’s heart procedure, including the hospital and transportation expenses. A schedule for a heart operation was set.
Crystal always carried her stuffed toy during her stay at the hospital.
On January 20 this year, Crystal, her grandmother, her father, and a World Vision Philippines staff travelled to Manila for Crystal’s heart operation.
The child, who has turned a year older, was admitted at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) in preparation for her operation. She had to undergo several laboratory tests. According to her grandmother, Crystal remained calm and silent throughout the process. She carried a stuffed toy to make herself comfortable.
The day of Crystal’s operation finally arrived. Everyone in the room hoped and prayed for positive results. At around 7 AM, Crystal was brought to the operating room with her Lola Dolores at her side.
After three long hours, the family’s prayers were finally answered. An overwhelming feeling washed over Ferdinand when he heard that the operation was a success.
Today, Crystal and her grandmother are staying in Manila so they can return conveniently to PGH for regular check-ups. Their rent is also covered by the donated money. According to Dolores, Crystal can already walk and eat properly. She has become more energetic.
“This is an answered prayer,” Dolores zealously shared. “We never thought that God would use World Vision and other generous people to help Crystal. This is the greatest help that we have ever received and we will forever be grateful to everyone who made this possible.”
Support children like Crystal, who deserves the opportunity to live healthily and to realise their dreams they never thought of. You can help turn a child’s life better and fill it with so much hope by Sponsoring A Child .