PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - Hurricane Maria slammed into their home, but what happened next had a family from Puerto Rico not only in Philadelphia but also receiving the gift of life.
FOX 29's Shawnette Wilson has the story of a mother and her little girl who just received a lifesaving liver transplant at CHOP.
"Once the storm hit Puerto Rico we had a long nine rough days. She was very sick and in need of a transplant," said Miriam Huertas is dealing with two life changing situations.
"My home was destroyed. Not completely but it was destroyed. We lost everything in it," she said. Hurricane Maria damaged her home in Puerto Rico last September and she says doctors urged her to leave the island to seek better care for her 6-year-old daughter Viktoria. She was diagnosed with a liver condition when she was seven months old.
"She has a very weird disease called PFIC type two. She would get really yellow, she would stop eating and drinking, she was getting dehydrated and she also had a stoma where she was draining her belly," said Miriam who left Puerto Rico soon after the hurricane hit and says her daughter was admitted to CHOP. She says they spent a month and a half there and were discharged December 23rd after Viktoria had a liver transplant November 30th. Miriam says they still have doctor's visits to make sure her daughter's body doesn't reject the liver. She says they can't return to Puerto Rico.
"Her treatment is for two years. We're visiting the hospital three to four times a week," she said. Miriam and Viktoria have been staying at the Franklin Residence Hotel in Center City on assistance from FEMA due to the damage to her home in Puerto Rico. But the assistance runs out February 13th and they have to leave.
"My biggest concern is not having a stable place for her to be at. She can't be at a shelter," said Miriam. Because of the post-transplant medication Viktoria is taking her mom says her immune system might not be able to fight off sickness yet. She's looking for a place to stay that will be safe for her little girl as she continues to recover.
"I'm just afraid that we're not going to have anywhere to go."
Miriam's family stayed in Puerto Rico after the hurricane. She says she's taking care of her daughter on her own and is in need of a place to stay before February 13th.