Carlitos and his Happier and Stronger Heart

Carlitos’ parents left their home in Northwest Mexico several months ago for Monterrey, Mexico. They were in desperate search of an opportunity to give their son a better quality of life.

Coming from Nazas, a town of barely 3,500 people, in Mexico’s northwest state of Durango, Gilberto Gurrola and María Ayala arrived in the big, bustling city of Monterrey in hopes of a miracle: To give their son, Carlitos, a hope at life.

Gilberto and María describe Carlitos as an energetic 10-year-old kid who enjoys playing, making jokes and riding his pet donkey. Seeing him with that level of energy and happiness made them assume Carlitos was a healthy child.

However, one day Carlitos unexpectedly ended up in the hospital after he took a serious fall off of his donkey. His life was about to change. After 12 days in the Intensive Care Unit, doctors discovered that his aorta, the main artery that carries blood away from Carlitos’ heart, was damaged.

The exact medical diagnosis is called an aortic coarctation, a critical congenital heart defect that prevents blood from flowing normally through the artery. The cardiologist explained to María and Gilberto that surgery would be needed. It would require special expertise and equipment.

“We knew any surgery can be risky. We thought about all the complications even for the most simple of procedures. We tried not to think of the worst case scenario, but I was truly afraid.” explained María.

Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey were all options of places where Carlitos could travel to be treated and to undergo this critical surgery. Following many medical consultations, the cardiologist recommended the family travel to Monterrey and to visit with Dr. Martín Aguilar, a physician at CHRISTUS Muguerza.

María remembers arriving in Monterrey for the first time. She was full of fear and uncertainty; nevertheless, she wanted what was best for her son. She wanted to see him back running, playing and riding that beloved donkey.

“We had never left our town of Nazas. We did not know Monterrey. Yes, it was difficult, but we knew we had to do this and to come to Monterrey for our son,” said María.

Once in Monterrey, Carlitos and his parents went to a government shelter where the state provides food and a place to stay for low-income people. At the shelter, they learned about the surgical brigade at CHRISTUS Muguerza Hospital Alta Especialidad. The hospital and its staff are part of the highly regarded and internationally known Bombeando Milagros, which translated means Pumping Miracles. The surgical brigade of Bombeando Milagros is a program that provides surgical care to children of all ages, from newborn to 16 year olds who suffer from congenital heart diseases. The children’s lives are at risk, and they often come from vulnerable situations

This free program geared toward children with heart disease was the blessing Carlitos’ parents wanted so badly for their son. After a specialist examined Carlitos, it was determined the young boy would indeed be a great candidate to receive the life-saving surgery that would fix his narrowed heart vessel.

“We love him very much, and everything is going to be OK,” said Gilberto, Carlitos’ father. “We were with him right up to the moment before they took him back into the operating room. That was such a hard moment for us as a family. But, we survived.”

Thanks to this surgery, Carlitos will now have the same opportunity at life as many other kids, and that means much more spirited adventures to come for this young man and his family.

Carlitos recently returned to his birthplace of Nazas.  He plans to finish his studies. However, one thing he doesn’t have any more plans to do. . .no more more serious falls from his donkey. He gives a thumbs up to that.carlitos1