CHICAGO (CBS)— Sofia Sanchez, the 11-year-old heart transplant patient who was visited by rapper Drake at Lurie Children’s Hospital last month, spoke to reporters Thursday about her recovery.
The 5th grader stole America’s hearts about a month ago when the story about her wish to meet Drake came true after she posted a video of her dancing in a hospital hallway with her cousin to Drake’s “In My Feelings,” showing off her dance moves while hooked up to an IV pump.
According to Lurie Children’s Hospital, Sofia was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a condition that often leads to heart failure and need for a heart transplant in order to survive. She underwent open heart surgery three weeks ago and had been waiting for a new heart for eight weeks.
After the surprise visit from Drake, Sanchez’s good luck streak continued, and she received her long-awaited, much-needed heart transplant a week later.
The nine-hour surgery was a success, her doctors say. Sanchez continues to recover at the Ronald McDonald House, and is expected to return home by Halloween, she said.
With her bouncy ponytail swinging from the top of her head and an ear-to-ear smile, Sanchez spoke publicly for the first time on Sept. 20, sharing the story of her recovery with the media.
“It feels better,” Sanchez said. “It feels different but in a good way. It feels like a regular heart.”
When asked whether the attention Drake brought to Sanchez’s medical case impacted how fast her transplant became available, cardiac surgeon Dr. Carl Backer said his visit helped spread awareness about the need for organ donors.
“It’s great to get this kind of attention,” Backer said. “This is a huge story for donor awareness.”
Sanchez said she’s had to train herself to swallow the 20 pills she needs to take everyday to help ensure her body doesn’t reject the new heart, but she’s made a game of it, swallowing two at a time with each gulp of water.
Now that she’s made friends with her favorite celebrity (the two of them still text each other) and she has a new chance at life, Sanchez continues to dream big.
Her next goal is to see Hawaii, she says. She plans to use her gift from the Make A Wish foundation to take a vacation there next year.