MIAMI (CBSMiami) – If you could put a face to bravery, 11-year-old Victoria Rojas would be it.
“With everything I’ve gone through, like this transplant, I was so excited to get the transplant because,” Rojas said before tears welled up in her eyes. “I feel good, it’s just different with this transition from liver disease failure and the actual transplant.”
Exactly one year ago she was a typical 10-year-old, about to finish up the 4th grade, when her mother noticed her skin was looking a little yellow. She took her to the doctor on a Tuesday to get her checked out.
“And then on Friday the doctor called me and said we got the results so you have to go to the hospital to admit her to do more test,” recalled Rojas’ mother Mary Ann.
Victoria was eventually diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis type 1 liver disease. The chronic disease causes the body’s immune system to attack the liver and cause it to become inflamed, often leading to liver failure.
Her doctors said Victoria’s liver was so bad it was equivalent to that of a person who had been drinking their whole life and she would need a transplant immediately.
The Clearwater family was told she’d receive the best care at Jackson Memorial’s Transplant Institute.
What made the situation even harder for Victoria was that her dad, a military contractor, was overseas when all of this was happening.
“I hated it, I felt very unhelpful, useless, being so far away,” said Victoria’s father Jenaro.
Victoria received word that she had a match just seven days after her father returned home. She underwent lifesaving surgery which was described by her doctor as uneventful.
CBS4’s Tiani Jones asked the 11-year-old how she got through such a tough year.
“Prayer. I also remembered that I would get through it,” she said.
The road to recovery will be a slow one, but the family is grateful that Victoria will be able to return to school, play sports, and have a normal childhood again.
“Victoria is smiling more, walks more, is ecstatic, and is eating more,” says Mary Ann. “She is no longer on pain medication and she is stronger than ever.”
As Victoria recovers, her father feels grateful that he could be by her side during her recovery. In just a few weeks, he is scheduled to once again be deployed for another 10-month stint overseas. He can go now in peace, he says, knowing that his daughter’s health is improving.