Fergie Sánchez, a 12-year-old girl from Miami, went on vacation to Honduras in July and had to return to South Florida on an ambulance plane.
The girl became fatigued and could not breathe, red spots on her face and her feet and stomach swollen. Within days, she was diagnosed with lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks healthy tissue and can damage many parts of the body, including the kidneys, lungs and heart.
But in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, there is no specialist to treat her illness, and Fergie, who was born in Miami and is a student at Kinloch Park Elementary School, was transported to an emergency room in South Florida with a medical team.
Now the family is seeking help to pay a debt of nearly $19,000 for the plane and the costs incurred at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, where she is hospitalized.
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“Fergie is fighting for her life. She has kidney failure...and fluid has entered her lungs. Now they are determining if she needs dialysis,” said her cousin, Jamie Rodas. “We are in terrible anguish because we could not afford those services until Global Health Services helped us, on the condition that we pay them $10,000 within one month and the rest in installments.”
The family organized a fundraising campaign at gofundme.com/fergie-sanchez.
The Miami-based Integrated Honduran Organization Francisco Morazán also will hold a festival on Sunday to raise funds to help the family. The event will be at Patio Típico Restaurant, 4591 NW 36th St., Miami Springs. A donation of $20 per person will be collected, which includes a dinner.
All funds will be earmarked to pay for the child’s medical expenses, said Francisco Portillo, president of the organization. Portillo said Honduran, Nicaraguan and Argentine artists, among others, will take part in the event.
Rodas described Fergie as a strong child, who at a young age has already faced multiple tragedies. When Fergie was 8 years old, her parents decided to return to Honduras because they lived in the United States without documents. Soon after the family arrived in the Central American country, Fergie’s father was killed. Her mother, afraid of the insecurity in her country, sent her daughter back to Miami to live with an aunt.
“She wanted her to grow up in a safer place, with a better education system,” Rodas said.
Now the family is seeking a humanitarian visa so her mother can join Fergie in Miami.
“Fergie is hanging on because she says she wants to see her mother again,” Rodas said.
Follow Brenda Medina on Twitter: @BrendaMedinar