A toddler from Spain needs a lung transplant, and her family hopes she can get the life-saving procedure here in the United States.
The toddler's mother, Maria Salas, said the family was visiting South Florida on April 14 because her husband needed to complete certifications for his job in the cruise ship industry.
Two days later, their 17-month-old daughter, Julia, came down with a high fever.
When she was taken to Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, Salas said doctors told her Julia had a virus.
In weeks, she developed a respiratory illness, had a collapsed lung, and started battling pneumonia on top of that.
"She can't breathe," Salas said.
According to doctors, at one point Julia's condition improved. But she then relapsed.
Doctors say, in order for Julia to survive, she needs a lung transplant.
"In the beginning, I felt so sad because I needed to understand why, and sometimes you feel, like, guilty because something wrong happened, but after days you learn that bad things sometimes happen in your life," Salas said.
According to doctors at Broward Health, pediatric lung transplants are rare, and Florida doesn't have hospitals that specialize in it. Texas Children's Hospital is one facility Julia's family is hoping can help; it is among the largest pediatric lung transplantation programs in the world, according to its website.
"One day I can have that girl, my daughter, in my arms again. That is my hope and that is my goal," Salas said.
The Salas family has set up the Julia Salas fund through Wells Fargo. For more information, contact: 904-662-1237.