“Spunky. Spunky. Spunky.”
Those are the three words used by Dr. Carl Backer to describe 11-year-old Sofia Sanchez, his patient at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and the little girl who captured the heart of superstar rapper Drake.
Speaking Tuesday evening, Backer said Sanchez was recovering nicely from the nine-hour heart transplant surgery she underwent Monday. Backer, the hospital’s surgical director of heart transplant patients, was assisted by a 10-member team for the procedure.
“I just saw her about five minutes ago and she’s doing quite well,” Backer said of the youngster. “She still has a breathing tube inserted, but that will be taken out in the next few hours.”
The Downers Grove fifth-grader had been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, an incurable disease that causes heart failure. It is quite rare in children, Backer said. Three weeks ago, she underwent open heart surgery during which a ventricular assist device (VAD) was inserted to assist her heart with pumping blood and to function as a bridge to a heart transplant.
Getting a new heart was one of two birthday wishes Sanchez made earlier this month; the other was to meet the Canadian rapper. An overcome Sanchez was all smiles when Drake, in town for a concert tour stop, surprised her Aug. 20 with a visit to her hospital room during which the two “bonded over Justin Bieber, basketball and Drake’s two dogs,” the hospital said. The visit was the result of a YouTube video in which Sanchez performed “The KiKi Challenge” and asked the rapper to please stop by for a visit.
On Sunday, Sanchez received the news of a donor heart. Drake commented on the Instagram post where she reacted to the news. “YESSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!! My love so happy for you,” the rapper wrote.
Backer said Sofia’s eight-week donor waiting period was on the shorter side, though some patients receive donor hearts in as little as one week. Others have taken as much as six months.
“Sofia has a blood type that was favorable for receiving organs from a bigger pool of donors,” Backer said. Of the donor heart family, Backer could only say “the donor heart was size-matched. [Sofia] is only about 40-45 pounds. So it could not be an adult heart.”
If her recovery continues at its current pace, Sanchez will be home in plenty of time for Halloween.
“I would anticipate a hospital discharge in three to four weeks,” he said.
A post on a GoFundMe page set up for Sanchez asks for prayers for the family “who has unselfishly donated a heart for Sofia.”