11-year-old gets life-saving liver transplant at UHealth

MIAMI (WSVN) - A young girl under the care of several South Florida doctors received a life-saving surgery.

Eleven-year-old Victoria Rojas is now on the road to recovery after she received a liver transplant.

“It’s our baby girl. It’s very difficult on the family currently, but with their help it’s a good road,” said the 11-year-old’s father, Jenaro Rojas.

Doctors knew that they needed to work fast. “She was admitted for the first time in her life with signs of what we call end-stage liver disease, and literally, within that first admission, she was told that she would need a transplant, not the next day but within the next couple of months,” said UHealth pediatric hepatologist Jennifer Garcia.

She was diagnosed about a year ago, and her family said that the incident turned their life upside down. Victoria’s father was serving overseas as a military contractor and felt helpless as his wife and daughter commuted from Clearwater, Florida to go through appointments and treatments at the University of Miami Health System at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

“At that time, I was in the Middle East,” he said. “Didn’t like it but being far way from home, What’s App, the apps, face to face, it helps a lot, technology today.”

According to doctors, Victoria’s liver resembled one of a person who had been drinking their whole life. “Kids are not supposed to have disease or not supposed to be sick,” said UHealth liver, intestinal and multivisceral surgeon Akin Tekan. “Adults, we can handle things. When you see kids, the emotional part is a little bit more.”

After months of treatment and strong medicines, which caused memory loss and hallucinations, Victoria found her perfect match just one week after her dad returned from deployment.

“They’re heroes. They saved my little princess’ life,” Victoria’s mother said.

Victoria said her faith got her through the darkest times. “Prayer,” she said, “I also remembered that I would get through it. I would look forward to things.”

She said she looked forward to going back to school and going back to being a normal sixth-grader.

Victoria got emotional as she talked about receiving the transplant. “I was so excited to get the transplant cause…” she said before trailing off. “I want to say thank you because they helped me get through this. All the visits they did and gifts. I’d just like to say thank you.”

Tekan in confident in the surgery and looks forward to his patient’s bright future. “In time, it will be like any other kid and any other person,” he said. “She will live a normal life, and we will go and celebrate her college graduation.”

April is National Donate Life Month, and the Rojas family is hoping that this story will touch others and encourage them to donate.

The family has also set up a GoFundMe page. If you’d like to donate, go to https://www.gofundme.com/victoria-medical-fund-2wha9nue?lang=en

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