- Marionville mayor ‘kind of agreed’ with Kansas City shooter’s views
- Rev. Al Sharpton’s Easter message: Politically ‘crucified’ Obama has risen again
- Supreme Court to weigh challenge to ban on campaign lies
- UNICEF launches ‘Mr. Poo’ mascot in India to curb public defecation
- Teen taking selfie by train: ‘Wow, that guy just kicked me in the head’
- Goodbye, Afghanistan — hello, Africa: Air Force to shift as U.S. exits Middle East
- Iran mulls ban on vasectomies, decrease on abortions to bolster population
- CNN op-ed claims right-wingers ‘more deadly than jihadists’
- Classes resume at high school rocked by stabbings
- ABC News accuses Center for Public Integrity of stealing Pulitzer-winning work
Nationals’ Ramos gives 13-year-old friend the gift of love
Vicky Cabrera faces third heart surgery
Ryan Zimmerman could tell. From Wilson Ramos‘ tone when he asked to speak with the Washington Nationals’ third baseman, the way he retrieved his phone to find the text message that said, in English, exactly what Ramos wanted to get across that day in spring training. This was important.
This was for Vicky.
Victoria Cabrera, the 13-year-old ray of light Ramos has come to consider a little sister. The slight, bespectacled, brunette girl whose ever-present smile does well to hide the turmoil going on inside her chest. It’s a cruel reality that Vicky, a girl with so much love to give, has a leaky heart.
Crueler, still, that when doctors at Miami Children’s Hospital examined her a few months after her first heart surgery, done in Venezuela in 2010, what they found was so startling they used the word “butcher” to describe her previous surgeon.
“She’s a really, really good little girl,” Ramos said. “She’s young, and she just wants to live life.”
Unfortunately for Vicky, living life is an expensive proposition.
‘They saved her’
Vicky was 11 when doctors in Venezuela found that she was suffering from a congenital heart defect known as subaortic stenosis, a narrowing of the left ventricle just below the aortic valve that tightened a pathway essential in the delivery of blood to the aorta. Surgery, doctors in Venezuela said, would fix it. One month later, it was clear it did not.
A second procedure, a mitral valve replacement, was done at Miami Children’s Hospital in March 2011 to help her reach the 13th birthday that has now come and gone. At the time, Dr. Richard Zakheim found her aortic valve also not functioning properly, but the mitral valve demanded more attention. The cost, without the U.S. medical insurance they lack as foreigners, was more than $300,000. They had no choice.
“Here in Venezuela, they told me she has no hope,” said Marfa Mata, Vicky’s mother and a close family friend of Ramos. “Many people can ask why I decided to have the surgery in the U.S. with the high cost. I am scared. She never had trouble with her valves before the first surgery here in Venezuela. That’s why I had the second one in the U.S. They saved her.”
Venezuelan major leaguers Miguel Cabrera, Pablo Sandoval and Carlos Gonzalez joined Ramos in helping Mata to pay down the first astronomical bill. But Mata, who works as a journalist in Venezuela and serves as Ramos‘ PR liaison, still owed a significant amount when Vicky began exhibiting signs that something, again, was wrong. Out with Ramos and his family in D.C. in September, Vicky almost fainted inside a Target store. Ramos just held her in his arms.
Families, lives intertwined
Mata helped Ramos learn English when he was a teenager in the Minnesota Twins minor league system. She sent him books and tapes to foster his grasp on the language, and she travels with Vicky to the U.S. often, sometimes with Ramos‘ family, to help with the language barrier. Ramos often jokes that Mata’s son, Enrique Jose, 4, is like his own. When Vicky threw out the first pitch on Opening Day for the Venezuelan league’s Tigres de Aragua last October, Ramos kept his promise to her that he’d be there to catch it.
Their families, their lives are intertwined.
As Ramos discusses his relationship with Vicky, he uses words like “smart,” and “happy. She’s laughing all the time.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals and comes to The Washington Times from the Cape Cod Times and after stints with MLB.com and the Amsterdam (N.Y.) Recorder. A Massachusetts native and 2008 graduate of Boston University, Amanda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow her on Twitter @acomak.
- What will Nationals do this offseason to contend again in 2014?
- As Nationals' manager search begins, Randy Knorr the players' choice
- Davey Johnson's big-league journey ends with Nationals loss
- Team spirit and Holy Spirit — for Nationals religion looms large on and off the field
- Jordan Zimmermann falls short of 20th win as Cardinals prevail again
Latest Blog Entries
- A fond farewell, and a bit of thanks
- Nationals coaches wait in limbo as team searches for next manager
- Davey Johnson won't be in uniform for Nationals in spring training
- Tanner Roark starts season finale with youthful lineup behind him (UPDATED)
- Dan Haren, Nationals top Diamondbacks in season's penultimate game
By John R. Bolton
Reality calls for attaching Gaza to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan
- 'Culture of intimidation' seen in Nevada ranch standoff
- Rand and Ron Paul ride to the rescue for Bundy in Nevada standoff with feds
- Atheists rush to stage Easter display: 'Jesus Christ is a myth'
- HURT: Wilson and Obama ... 100 years apart, but so alike
- FISHER: Shades of Berlin in the South China Sea
- WEBER: Obamacare cuts home healthcare for millions of seniors
- Obama unveils new $600 billion jobs initiative
- Nevada Bundy ranch standoff could leave dirt on Harry Reid reputation
- EDITORIAL: Got (raw) milk?
- Secret U.S. assessments show Afghanistan not ready to govern on own
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.