Raphoe schoolgirl Victoria Santos faces a challenging 2019 that will include life-changing surgery – and a fundraising drive has been set up to enable her mother be by her side.
Victoria (13) suffers from scoliosis, a condition that means she has a 100-degree curve in her spine.
As a result of complications, Victoria – who was just 1.6kg when born – gets sick 10-20 times every day.
This year, ‘Vicky’ will have surgery and also requires a halo-gravity traction.
She will spent three months at Temple Street Children’s Hospital in Dublin.
Her mother, Flavia, will take a break from her job at McGranaghan’s on the Diamond in Raphoe to be with her. Medics have advised that, due to the intensity of the surgery, that Flavia have another adult with her.
To cover the cost of a lengthy stay in Dublin and bringing Flavia’s mother from Brazil for the period, Flavia’s colleague Rebecca Carlin has set up a Go Fund Me page that is aiming to raise €6,000.
Already, over €1,000 has been pledged.
“I’m actually overwhelmed by the generosity of people in this community,” Flavia told Donegal Daily/Donegal Woman.
“I never thought this would actually work for real and I’ve no words to say really, except a massive thank you and I ask God to return with many blessing in these peoples’ lives.
“I would love to bring my mother here from brazil as Vicky is totally crazy about her and she is willing to come and help me.”
Flavia originally hails from Aracatuba in Brazil and has been in Donegal since she was a teenager.
Victoria, who now attends Little Angels in Letterkenny – ‘they are amazing with her’, Flavia says – was born while her mother lived in Stranorlar and they’ve been residing in Raphoe for the last two years.
“She now has 2 types of esophagitis, ulcers and gastric reflux to the point she vomits blood sometimes,” an emotional Flavia says.
“Her breathing is also short as her lungs are also being compressed and I use inhalers to help her.
That itself affect her eating as she can’t chew food and has swallowing problems.
“She doesn’t have balance so she can’t walk by herself and unfortunately is not able to use a walker. At home I just move her from place to place with my arms or I hold her hands and back and she is able to give a few steps, but she needs a wheelchair if we are going anywhere else.”
Flavia listened to Dr Green, a spinal surgeon from Temple Street, explain possible complications of surgery and was overcome with dread.
“That broke my heart,” Flavia says of the day she heard the phrases ‘totally paralised’ and ‘vegetative state’.
“I was scared in case the surgery would go wrong I would take away the little joy and independence she has,” her loving mother says.
In October, Flavia took a call from the medics again. This time, the risks of not having surgery were outlined.
Flavia says: “I only have one chance really to give her a better quality of life and that is by doing this surgery.”
Flavia, who is non-verbal, understands English and Portuguese, but is totally depended on her mother.
“Even though she feels pain sometimes and has her disability, she is the most happy and bright girl,” Flavia says.
“She is mad about music and likes to listen and bounce on her sofa clapping hands and smiling away.
“She loves kisses and hugs, is very cheerful to everyone and so many other positive things about her.”
Flavia is now awaiting a date to meet with the cardiologist and the anaesthetic doctor.
She lives on a love for ‘Vicky’ and on hope and unrelenting faith in what lies ahead: “I just believe in God and the doctors that it will be a success.”
To donate to the ‘Help For Vicky’ campaign, click here: https://www.gofundme.com/s6m8j-help-for-victoria?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=fb_dn_cpgntopstickysmall_r&fbclid=IwAR2KOJGADqO_VHSjKEk7GAIa7BQfNUyN764QA97Uaxggv5Gjk-xFDulRMj4