The Vargas family never imagined they would have their baby in Memphis but are thankful that they did. “I’m grateful for Regional One Health,” Erenia Vargas said. “I felt so lost.”
Erenia and Hector Vargas never imagined they would have a baby in Memphis, Tennessee. The city wasn’t on their radar before 2015, but that’s when their then-4-year-old daughter, Camila, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.
And like many families from around the world, they learned about the care at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital where they would spend 11 months from 2015 to 2016. They returned home to Nicaragua, but found their way back to Memphis in April 2017 when the cancer returned and Camila required another bone marrow transplant last summer. It was during this current stay in Memphis that Erenia learned she was pregnant.
The family hoped to return home to give birth to their daughter, but when December came and Camila still wasn’t cleared to travel to Nicaragua, they needed a new plan. Enter Regional One Health where they toured in March to better understand what to expect about the delivery process in a foreign country.
“I’m grateful for Regional One Health. I felt so lost,” Erenia said through a translator shortly after her tour of Labor and Delivery. “There are so many unknowns. It was great to come in and see what we can expect. It gives us a great sense of comfort to see what the whole experience will be like.”
One day after a tour of Regional One Health, the Vargas family welcomed baby Lucia Carolina Vargas Ruiz. “We are grateful because we were treated with all the necessary considerations, both from the doctors and the rest of the staff,” Erenia shared.
Just one day after their tour, Erenia went into labor, had baby Lucia Carolina Vargas Ruiz and was discharged three days later. She was appreciative of the care received.
“Our experience at Regional One Health was excellent,” she said. “We are grateful because we were treated with all the necessary considerations, both from the doctors and the rest of the staff.”
The Vargas family’s transition to Memphis was much smoother thanks to a relationship with Lucia Heros, a native of Nicaragua who volunteers at Regional One Health through ONE Club. Heros’ role is an example of Regional One Health volunteers going above and beyond to serve. As a former Hispanic marketing manager at ALSAC, she maintains close relationships with St. Jude staff who put her in contact with the family when they first arrived in the city.
“We have since struck up a beautiful friendship,” Heros said. “I’ve been lucky enough to be there for them, to assist on their journey here, which has had some difficult moments. To see Camila the way she is today is just amazing. It’s an absolute joy to see her healthy and running around and having fun.”
Baby Lucia’s parents named her for Heros, in honor of the close relationship the family has formed with her.
St. Jude discharged Camila, now 7, earlier this month, allowing the family to return home on April 15.
“It was like winning the lottery to be accepted at St. Jude,” Hector said. “We realized how lucky we were, but then reality hit that we had to leave our home, jobs, our family and the entire world we knew. It was like having the rug pulled out from us. We had our world flipped upside down. You worry how much will life change when we go back. Will our family still be there? Will our lives still be there? There are so many things you think about but our priority is Camila’s health.”
Now the proud parents have two healthy children to take back to Nicaragua, but Memphis will hold a special place in their hearts. Heros is thankful for the family’s experience with multiple health care organizations in Memphis.
“When we got the news she was having a baby we were overjoyed, but we needed to navigate the process of where the baby would be born,” she said. “It says so much about Regional One Health and how you support families. They had such a wonderfully positive experience at Regional One Health. I was there for the C-section and the whole experience and can honestly say it was first-class care delivered with so much compassion.”