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Amid a pandemic, a 1-year-old's heart condition brings added stress, uncertainty

Posted at 6:53 AM, May 20, 2020

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WXYZ) — University of Michigan's Mott Children's Hospital is the only home 1-year-old Valentina has ever known.

Other than an emergency flight to a hospital in Pittsburgh back in February, the Riverview baby has never left the hospital.

“She was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, it's pretty much half of a heart," said Francesca Garnetti, Valentina's mom.

Valentina has had three open heart surgeries and relies on feeding and oxygen tubes. But if it weren't for the tubes and some scars from her surgeries, you'd think she's just like any other baby.

Garnetti said despite Valentina's challenges, she's a happy little girl.

“She’s so strong that I have to be to strong," Francesca told 7 Action News.

A major step forward came two weeks ago, when after nine months, Valentina left the ICU for the general cardiac floor at Mott Children's Hospital.

"All the doctors, all the nurses and everybody knows her here. And it was a good moment," Francesca told 7 Action News. She posted a video of the moment on Facebook -- applause for Valentina erupted throughout the floor as the 1-year-old's hospital bed left her ICU room.

But earlier this week, another complication landed Valentina back in intensive care.

Francesca said the added stresses of a global pandemic hitting metro Detroit so hard has made this already tough situation much harder.

She worries about Valentina's immune system, even being in a hospital.

"She would do really bad because her immune system is so low. And then also, just for visiting wise at the hospital, only one person is allowed here. Her sisters miss her, she misses the rest of her family," she said.

Valentina has a 1-month-old little sister she's yet to meet.

Francesca wants to share Valentina's journey; she’s documented a lot of it on Facebook in hopes of raising awareness for her daughter’s condition.

And she hopes that, especially now, people realize the importance of taking precautions like washing their hands, wearing masks, and social distancing.

"Just because it doesn’t affect you seriously doesn’t mean it’s not going to affect somebody else seriously," she said.

Francesca said despite this recent setback, she's hopeful Valentina will be released and get to finally come home in the next couple of months.

Valentina's family started a Go Fund Me page to raise money for medical costs associated with her treatment.

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