Have a Heart for Marcela: Food For The Poor Revives Campaign
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (June 22, 2022) Last fall, with the help of Food For The Poor donors, Baby Marcela, of El Progreso, Guatemala, had surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital to correct a life-threatening heart condition. Now healthier and stronger, she will return to Boston in August for a second procedure and once again she needs FFTP’s help.
Marcela’s big, expressive eyes and sweet smile belie the fact that she is in peril. She was born with ectopia cordis, a rare condition in which babies are born with their hearts partially or entirely outside their chest cavities. Only 8 of every 1 million babies have ectopia cordis, and 90 percent die within three days of birth. With no doctor in Guatemala able to perform the delicate surgery that could save her life, Marcela’s best option was to receive treatment in the United States.
In addition to ectopia cordis, Marcela had a structural heart problem and weakness in her abdominal wall that causes organs to protrude through the belly button.
Marcela had surgery in Boston on Sept. 15, 2021, when she was 9 months old. During her surgery, doctors corrected the structural defect in her heart, but they wanted her to gain weight and grow stronger before placing her heart inside her chest cavity and reconstructing her abdominal wall. Marcela returned home with a protective shield covering her heart until she could go back to Boston for the second procedure, scheduled for Aug. 8.
“I am very happy that the second surgery is approaching, and our little warrior will be completely healthy,” said Marcela’s mom, Isabel, in an email to her friends at FFTP. “Thank you for being a light on our path and the hard work you have done for Marcela and our family – and for the relief of being able to count on you for support. We thank God for you coming into our lives.”
In the months since her surgery, Marcela’s mom said she’s gained weight, received all her vaccinations, and is on the verge of walking. Now 18 months, she’s stronger than ever and ready for the next step in her treatment.
Marcela’s parents, whose family income is the equivalent of about $450 per month, could not afford the first operation. Family and friends mounted a fundraiser to pay for expenses, church members prayed for a miracle for Marcela, and Univision broadcast the story of her plight, which caught the eye of Fort Lauderdale hairstylist Xiomara Florencio. Florencio shared the story with a client, Fatima Pray, a Senior Development Advisor at FFTP. Within weeks, the charity began the “Have a Heart for Marcela” fundraising campaign to help her receive the care she needed at Boston Children’s Hospital.
A renewed “Have a Heart for Marcela” campaign is under way to secure the funds necessary to cover the cost of the second procedure.
“Food For The Poor donors are among the most charitable in the world – and Marcela’s story is simply too captivating to ignore,” Ed Raine, FFTP President/CEO said. “I’m certain we will receive the support necessary to help her, and we are eternally grateful for every donation to help this beautiful little girl.”
Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry children and families living in poverty primarily in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicine, educational materials, homes, support for vulnerable children, care for the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.