FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – Clutching her pink stuffed animals, every breath is a struggle for 17-month-old Julia Salas.
Salas needs a lung transplant and has been at Chris Everett Children’s Hospital in Ft. Lauderdale since April, that’s when she was hospitalized after being exposed to two different viruses and developing a respiratory illness that left her lungs irreparably damaged.
Her mother Maria Salas says her daughter is a fighter.
“Always you know this can happen,” said Salas. “But you never can imagine it can happen to you.”
Salas told CBS4’s Joan Murray that the family had travelled from their home in Spain to Brazil and later to South Florida before her daughter became ill.
No one is sure where she came in contact with the viruses.
“When she’s awake she gives the biggest smile,” said her mother.
Doctors have had to sedate little Julia because she often struggles with the ventilator that helps her to breathe, when she’s awake.
“She needs new lungs for the opportunity to live,” said Salas.
Right now the family is trying to get on the list to have a lung transplant at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.
Maria Salas says she is trying to be strong for her daughter.
“I can give all my love an strength and pass that on to her to continue fighting. One day we’ll make it and can go back home,” said Salas.
A fund has been set up to help the family with enormous expenses. If you would like to help log on to www.Neighbors4Neighbors.org for information on contributing to the Julia Salas Fund.