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Medical bills add up as 5-year-old girl awaits heart transplant

Family moves from Durango to be near hospital
Posted at 6:08 PM, Aug 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-04 01:54:27-04

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DENVER -- Alanna Lucero, 5, just wants to keep up with the other kids her age. But as she's running around playing, she has to stop and take breaks. Those breaks started becoming more frequent about six months ago.

"She told me the other day, 'Mom, I just really want to be a normal kid.' I told her that she is a normal kid but that she has a special heart," said her mom, Bella Lucero.

Lucero explained that her daughter was born with a hole in her heart and as that hole closed she developed a disease called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which causes the heart muscle to become thicker.

"Eventually we knew it was always going to lead to a heart transplant just because there’s no surgery to repair it or no fix for what she has, we just didn’t figure it would be this soon," said her dad, Marco Lucero.

The family lives in Durango but they travel to Denver for all of Alanna's appointments. She had a routine checkup back in June, that's when her parents learned some unexpected news.

"They told us it was a lot worse and that’s when they told us that she needs a heart transplant," said Bella Lucero.

Alanna is now on the waiting list for a heart transplant but her parents said it could take anywhere from a few weeks to nine months to get a heart. The Lucero family has to be within two hours of the hospital so they were forced to temporarily move from Durango to Denver.

"We don’t know how long we’ll be here," said Bella Lucero.

Lucero said even after the surgery, they will have to stay in Denver for three months because her daughter will have a number of follow up appointments.

The family is currently living in a motel and they said someone has paid for that room until the beginning of October. Lucero said they will likely try to rent an apartment or home after that.

"A 5-year-old should be able to get a heart transplant and we shouldn’t have to worry about healthcare and the cost," said Lucero.

The cost has been a constant worry, especially as Lucero and her husband are taking an extended leave from work to care for their daughter. Even though the family has insurance, they know it won't cover the full cost of the surgery.

A GoFundMe page was started by family members to help cover medical bills and any other expenses related to the Denver move.

"Our community has been incredible, they’re really supporting us and we couldn’t be more grateful for the support," said Lucero.