A 7-year-old Bolivian girl suffering from tiredness, fatigue, and repeated infections was the first paediatric cardiology patient from the Amazon to be treated at the Health City Cayman Islands hybrid catheterisation laboratory.

Nelly Maldonado’s condition led to her parents worrying that something was wrong with their daughter. Mother Carmen Maldonado couldn’t afford to go to the city to seek medical attention for Nelly.

The charity Samaritan’s Purse, in partnership with Health City, was able to arrange for Nelly and Carmen to travel from the Amazon to Grand Cayman to see paediatric cardiologist, Dr. Sripadh Upadhya, who diagnosed a hole in Nelly’s enlarged heart and fluid in her lungs, according to an HCCI press release.

This limited Nelly’s ability to perform any physical activity, with Upadhya noting that over a period of time she would have had to deal with pulmonary hypertension or high lung pressures, which would be irreversible.

Upadhya said he was happy to find that her condition didn’t require open-heart surgery; to correct the anomaly he carried out a procedure called percutaneous device closure.

“It’s not open-heart surgery. It’s a cath procedure. We punctured the groin, and then we plugged the hole with a special device.” he explained in the release.

“Before the surgery I got tired a lot. Now I feel better.” Maldonado said.

The young patient was discharged the day after the hourlong procedure. The operation was possible because of the hospital’s hybrid catheterisation laboratory, the only such faciility in the Caribbean.

Upadhya said Nelly is back to being a normal little girl, jumping and playing around.

“It’s a blessing for us that we at Health City have been able to do these kinds of procedures for children from most parts of the globe. I thank Samaritan’s Purse for giving me an opportunity to do this, to give wonderful life back to children,” Upadhya said.