LONG ISLAND, New York -- An 8-year-old girl from Haiti had a Christmas wish to be able to do what most little girls do -- play, jump rope, and run around with her friends. And thanks to a life-saving heart surgery now she can.
In just 72 hours, there's been a visible change in Hamanda Mirline Maignan.
"This morning, when I went to pick them up in the car from the Ronald McDonald (House), she started to sing a song of praise," said Florence Mark Charles, with The Gift of Life, Inc.
She and her husband Eddie are hosting Hamanda and her mother from Haiti.
When Hamanda arrived last week, she didn't even have the energy to comb her own hair. Her mother says it was a fight for her daughter just to eat properly. She couldn't run and play with other kids, let alone sing.
"After three days, she's eating and I'm looking at her, she gives me a different face," said mom Silphana, translated from French to English by Eddie Mark Charles. "She's just another person. So it's just a miracle. It's a dream come true."
With the help of The Gift of Life, Inc., St. Anthony's High School in South Huntington, and The Nicholas J. Vizza Fund, mother and daughter were flown to the Heart Center at St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn to correct Hamanda's rare heart condition, called Pulmonic Valve Stenosis, all free of charge.
Dr. Sean Levchuck, the Chairman of Pediatric Cardiology at St. Francis, performed the operation.
"We generally see this immediate result, because we patch a hole or fix a hole in the heart," he said. "She's going to appreciate the ongoing improvement. It takes several months to years, because her heart was working eight years against an obstruction."
Now, not only is Hamanda feeling better, she's mastered one key English phrase for those who saved her life.
She said, "Thank you."
8-year-old girl from Haiti has life-saving surgery to correct rare heart condition
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