Photo Courtesy  of the Family
Camila Guadalupe Arvizu is currently hospitalized with a tumor on her left lung. A few weeks ago the family had no idea a tumor would be discovered that now threatens her life. 

What was supposed to be a short trip to Zacatecas, Mexico to baptize a young couple’s 10-month-old daughter has turned into a devastating fight for their baby’s life.

After being reassured that it would be safe to travel if they took all COVID-19 safety measures, parents Natalie and Ulisses Arvizu decided to take the trip so that their child’s paternal grandparents could be there to witness this meaningful event. Although Camila’s mother’s family, the Sandovals, are rooted in the Northeast San Fernando Valley, her husband’s elderly parents still live in Mexico and could not take the trip to the United States.

So, fully vaccinated and making sure that their family in Mexico was vaccinated too, the couple said they made the decision to travel south to hold the religious ceremony. They were all looking forward to Camila’s grandparents finally being able to spend time with her. When she was born, travel had been shut down.

But shortly after they arrived in Mexico, the parents could see that Camila wasn’t herself.

“The baby seems to have good days and bad. They took her to several doctors and hospitals because they were concerned about flying home with her being ill,” said her Aunt Estela Sandoval.

Photo Courtesy of the Family
Camila with her parents, Ulisses and Natalie,  at her baptism before the tumor was discovered on her lung and she began having breathing problems.

“Unfortunately, she continued to worsen. What at first seemed [by doctors] to be a lung infection spiraled to pneumonia,” Sandoval described.

At first, the doctor insisted it wasn’t COVID-19. But after days of stressful back and forth, asking why their baby wasn’t recovering, it was confirmed that baby Camila, did test positive — she had the dangerous virus.

Currently there is no vaccination for children under five, so she did not have the same protection that her parents had. Many parents believe, based on information given during the start of the pandemic, that children aren’t susceptible to the virus.

It’s been especially painful for her parents who haven’t been allowed to be by her side because she’s been isolated and quarantined in a COVID ward. They want nothing more than to comfort their daughter and worry that she’s scared without them.

News Gets Worse — Camila Has a Life-Threatening Tumor

If receiving the news that your baby has COVID-19 isn’t terrifying enough, Camila’s parents received more shocking news.

“While running a scan of her lungs they discovered a large tumor on her left lung that is applying pressure to her heart, and because of its large size, doctors believe it is malignant,” said Sandoval.

The situation became more dire when the hospital required payment of $5,000 per day. Camila, being an American citizen doesn’t qualify for any public assistance. And worse, in Mexico, hospitals generally require payment upfront.

As the family scrambled to pull any and all financial resources together, the attending doctor recommended that Camila be moved to another hospital better equipped to manage her serious condition, but that hospital refused admittance. General care COVID wards are full throughout parts of Mexico, which has increased the strain on healthcare workers. The family was told that even though Camila’s situation is critical, Mexican nationals have priority for hospital admissions.

Photo Courtesy of the Family
Camila’s feisty personality and fighting spirit are clearly seen in this photo. 

“The doctor recommended that they go to the hospital and beg them to take her. We all begged them until they relented,” said Sandoval. “They took her, for a great financial cost.”

They initially contacted the American Embassy hoping to get help and for an air ambulance to bring her back home to the United States. But that hope was dashed when they were told it would cost 50 to 60 thousand dollars, and that too would have to be paid up front.

“All we want is for treatment to be started. The doctor has told us not to lose hope even if the tumor is malignant, which by the rate of growth he believes it is,” Sandoval said.

“He said Camila still has a 70 to 80 percent chance of survival so we are holding onto that hope,” she said. “Her care will probably involve surgery and chemo. We want to transport her by air ambulance, but the doctor just explained that right now she is too sick to be brought home. He explained moving her was too dangerous and he could not guarantee that she could withstand the flight.”

Sandoval said that it’s hard for the family to grasp the situation. Camila’s mother had always been diligent about her daughter’s pediatrician appointments and had never missed a single one. She had even told the doctor that she wanted a test run because it seemed that her legs were getting weak.

“Every concern she brought up to the doctor, she was always told that ‘everything was fine,’” Sandoval said. “All of Camila’s regular doctors missed it. If she hadn’t been diagnosed with COVID-19, further testing wouldn’t have been done and the tumor would have been left undetected.”

 Since reaching out for help, Sandoval said it’s also been disheartening to receive hurtful comments and judgement when what is really needed now is support.

“We’ve heard a couple of grumblings from people claiming that these are the consequences of travel and ‘they should have known better,’” she shared.

“Camila has now been intubated,” Sandoval explained. “We are desperately trying to do all we can. We’ve exhausted all of our financial resources to keep up with the daily costs of her care and we have no other means but to turn to the generosity of others to help.”

“Please know that every donation helps, small donations joined together with other small donations can make the difference. Our family isn’t accustomed to asking for help — we never have before, but now we must. Our focus is saving Camila’s life.”

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