Daughter's Health All Yakima Family Needs This Christmas - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Daughter's Health All Yakima Family Needs This Christmas

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YAKIMA--Christmas is a time for families to be together and be thankful for what they have.  For one Yakima family, it means celebrating the life of their young daughter, who has fought incredible odds just to be here.

Evette Alvarez was born with a heart murmur and has always taken medication, but in May she got really sick.  Her parents checked her into Children's Hospital in Seattle.  The hospital became their home for the next six months.

"They asked me if I brought extra clothes and told me I was going to have to stay for a long time," Evette's mom, Luz Alvarez, said.  "They took Evette into intensive care."

Doctors found that Evette's heart and a kidney were failing.  Luckily, Children's is one of ten hospitals using an experimental device called the Berlin Heart.

"They understood that there really wasn't much of an option," Dr. Gordon Cohen, Seattle Children's Hospital, said.  "Without the Berlin Heart, she would have never made it to heart transplant."

The heart kept her alive until they got a donor, but for a while things looked bleak.

"They told us they couldn't do much more, to let her rest and go with God," Luz said.  "But, we had faith."

After 12 surgeries, Evette's doing well.  The family doesn't have many Christmas gifts this year,  but they don't need them.

"Look how good she looks," Luz said.  "She's our Christmas gift.  These tears, they're of happiness.  It's the greatest gift God has given us.  She's here and alive."

The Alvarez family moved back home last month.   They still have to go to Seattle once a week for Evette's checkups.   Compared to what they've been through, that's nothing.

"This is a kid who came in near death," Cohen said.  "She got experimental treatment to keep her alive long enough to get her a transplant and she's a huge success on so many levels."