Andy Herrera Reyes is just like any kid. He likes to watch sports, play games, and do well in school. As a student member of Children Beyond Our Border’s Triunfadores College Prep Program, Andy always brings a smile to his tutors’ and peers’ faces - a small testament of Andy’s joyful and courageous personality.
“Andy is a great student,” says Emily Santiana, the Education Director of Children Beyond Our Borders. “Despite the consistent obstacles that he has confronted and continues to overcome, his dedication toward his education has never wavered. Andy’s dreams of obtaining his high school diploma and going to college persist in
the face of language barriers and medical conditions. It is an honor to have him in our college prep program - he is a Triunfador.”
Andy’s life journey has been nothing short of a miracle. Since being born with a congenital heart defect, Andy has undergone several heart surgeries to help repair the holes in his heart which prevent it from functioning properly. In 2017, Andy and his family traveled to the Cayman Islands, just south of Cuba, to get Andy a heart surgery treatment that was unavailable in their native home of the Dominican
Republic. At first, physicians believed the surgery was successful, however, in the following days, Andy’s heart was still unable to have a stable and independent rhythm. To help him survive, Andy had to put on VA-ECMO (veno-arterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), a device that took over the functions of his heart and lungs.
Andy’s family’s search for a medical facility to help Andy ultimately led them to UF Health in Gainesville, Florida. Andy was transferred to UF Shands Children’s Hospital where a strong and passionate team of professionals took Andy into their care and were committed to seeing Andy thrive and recover. His kidney function, wound healing, infection, physical movement, and nutrition were worse than anticipated, but the team was dedicated to seeing Andy recover. In 2018, a donor
heart became available, and Andy’s health was now strong enough to undergo surgery. After approximately 22 hours, the surgical team completed Andy’s heart transplant, shifting Andy’s journey to recovery and rehabilitation. Andy stayed in the Intensive Care Unit on VA-ECMO for over 6,000 hours – longer than anyone had ever been before, and spent over 500 consecutive days in the hospital. Andy was discharged with the health team and parents right by his side, doing what no one anticipated we would be able to do before. He defied the odds and touched many hearts along the way.
Today, Andy’s battle continues as he awaits a kidney transplant. He and his family have been working their hardest and fighting their strongest to get Andy the treatment he needs so that he can finally get the chance to just be a kid and enjoy life. Please visit Andy’s social media below to find more about what you can do to help. Please consider donating to the family’s GoFundMe to help Andy get on the
UF Health’s Story and Video On Andy: