AJMS student living with a serious medical condition


Xitlacly Ibanez celebrating her twelfth birthday with, her mother and older sister Litzy (missing from family photo is her baby sister)

Litzy Ibanez

Imagine not being able to be as active as those around you. Going to the hospital every few months to check how your body is holding up.


Elizabeth Millan was giving birth when they informed her that her daughter, Xitlacly Ibanez had a heart condition: heart murmur. During her pregnancy, Elizabeth was expecting to have twins but unfortunately one passed away, a baby boy.


Once the doctors told her about Xitlacly, they told her she was going to be alright. “I wasn’t worried about it very much because the doctors had explained everything and I didn’t seem to freak out about it. Later on they told me that she would be going under surgery by the time she would turn three,” explained Elizabeth.


A heart murmur is a unusual sound heard between heartbeats. Murmurs may be harmless, also called innocent, or abnormal. Harmless murmurs may not cause symptoms and can happen when blood flows rapidly instead of normally through the heart during times like exercise, pregnancy or during rapid growth in children.


“They described it to me as holes in her heart and that she will lose her breathe very quickly during any active activity,” said Elizabeth.


Xitlacly went through the surgery procedure called balloon valvuloplasty or transcatheter aortic valve implantation(TAVI). This procedure is performed to relieve a narrowed valve. During a balloon valvuloplasty, a small catheter containing an expandable balloon is threaded into your heart, placed into the valve and then expanded to help widen the narrowed valve.


“My mom told me that during the surgery they put in me a thing that looked like a sponge and that’s my life. If they remove that then I’ll die,” said Xitlacly. The surgery lasted for eight to nine hours.


Xitlacly would also gain weight really fast even though she was eating perfectly. “Out of nowhere she just gained more than me and I was surprised since I was older than her,” said Litzy Ibanez, her oldest sister.


She now visits the doctor once a year to hear how the heart is beating so far. “Every visit has been getting better and the holes have been going away, while some are still there,” explained Elizabeth.


“Telling my friends was one of easiest and hardest at the same time because most wouldn’t really understand and just say ‘oh that must be difficult’ and some will just say ‘oh’ and won’t say anything else,” said Xitlacly.


Even through the difficulties when she was younger, she is still stronger than ever and knows what is best for her and her needs. “I still love her even though she is having a hard time with her heart condition,”said Litzy.


This is Xitlacly now and she is happier than ever.