Meet the Avila Family

No mother wants for her child is to suffer from a broken heart. For Brandie Hernandez, that is exactly what she experienced after the birth of her son, Daniel Avila.

Only two short days after he was born, doctors discovered Daniel had a heart murmur. Daniel and his family were transported to a hospital in Macon, where after many x-rays and lab reports, it was determined that Daniel’s right and left ventricles were out of place. Daniel was also diagnosed with having a hole in his heart.

At only four weeks old, Daniel had his first surgery at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta where doctors placed a band around his pulmonary artery in order to regulate his blood flow. Throughout Daniel’s surgery and recovery, the Avila family stayed at the Gatewood House, to be close to the hospital and their son.

Once Daniel recovered from the surgery, the family returned home to Vidalia, Georgia. Less than two months later, Brandie was monitoring Daniel’s oxygen levels and noticed they had dropped. The family returned to Atlanta so doctors could perform a second surgery. Doctors placed a Blalock-Taussig shunt, or BT shunt, in Daniel’s heart, helping to increase blood flow to his lungs.

After this second surgery Daniel and his family were sent home again. During a cardiologist appointment, doctors noticed poor function in Daniel’s heart and he was rushed to the hospital. Little Daniel’s heart stopped beating for close to twenty minutes. Doctors made the decision to place him on the waiting list for a heart transplant.

Daniel is currently at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston, waiting for a heart.

Daniel’s nurses and doctors have nicknamed him “The King of the Unit” for his full-head of Elvis-like black hair. Daniel’s father, Jose, says that Daniel is a fighter and has a surprisingly strong grip.

With this being the Avila’s third stay at the Gatewood House, the family is more than appreciative to have a  home-away-from home while they eagerly await good news that Daniel has a match for a new heart.

“We know that we will always have a home here.” — Brandie

avila family blog
Daniel has an older sister, Anahi, who stays at the
House near Egleston with her parents Brandie and Jose.