11-Year-Old Heart Transplant Patient Helps Raise $12K For Lurie Hospital That Saved Her Life

Bob Roberts
March 02, 2019 - 11:38 am

WINNETKA (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The 11-year-old heart transplant patient whose video of her dancing to a Drake video prompted him to visit her in August at Lurie's Children's Hospital was the star March 1 as fellow students from the Skokie and Carleton-Washburne Schools in Winnetka finished raising $12,000 in donations for the hospital with a party. 

Sofia Sanchez, who said doctors at Lurie's saved her life, brought along a new friend to the celebrations who is no less inspirational. Sanchez and Jessica Venditto, of West Hempstead, N.Y., were two rooms away from one another at the hospital for nearly three months and became great friends despite a 13-year age difference.

Sanchez has a new heart. Venditto, 24, is still waiting, but said Sanchez is inspirational, both in terms of her attitude and in the way she recovered "so fast."

Sanchez wants others like Venditto to be given the same second chance she received last year. She said donation drives, such as the one just concluded at the two schools, enable research to continue and can help save people's lives.

Together, the friends faced reporters, tried Hula-Hoops and danced on stage, which had a DJ and fun dance groups with classmates and parents. Both said one day they want to meet the families who donated and thank them.

Sofia Sanchez played with Hula Hoops and danced at the school fundraiser. (Bob Roberts/WBBM)

But while Sanchez's story is a light of hope and prospect for those like Venditto and the larger community, the facts are not entirely rosy. Sanchez's latest biopsy showed mild signs of rejection but nothing requiring hospitalization, said her mother, Natalie Sanchez.

The schools hope to make the fundraiser an annual event.