Community raising money for young Santa Fe heart recipient

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SANTA FE, N.M. — Last year, during what should have been a routine check-up, 10-year-old Aaliyah Montoya was diagnosed with Dilated Cardiomyopathy. 

Her father, Joshua Montoya, said they tried to control the condition–which makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body–with medication. But in October, a sudden sickness turned into a fight for her life. 

“Her heart rate was going from 120 to 150, down to 118,” he said. “It was just all over the place. So the doctor said that her heart is probably giving out and she needs to be transferred back up here for care.” 

While Aaliyah was on the way to the Children’s Hospital in Aurora, Colorado, her heart stopped. 

“They had to turn around and do chest compressions and revive her and get her back to the hospital, put her on life support,” her father said. 

Not knowing whether his young daughter was going to wake up, Joshua said the terrifying experience was one he was already familiar with. 

“So this all started about nine years ago,” he said. “My son was four, and he had the same thing my daughter had, and we didn’t know that, you know, a toddler can go into heart failure. He was in the hospital for over a year as well.” 

Fortunately, both siblings were gifted a second chance through organ donation. Joshua’s son, Joshua Jr., received his new heart nine years ago and is now a healthy thirteen-year-old. The miracle for now 11-year-old Aaliyah came just one month ago. 

“She’s doing a lot better today,” Joshua told KOB 4 from the Colorado hospital where Aaliyah recently underwent a biopsy to test her new heart’s health. 

He added that doctors are keeping a close eye on her while she recovers, and it may take several more months before she can go home to Santa Fe. 

During the several months Aaliyah has needed around-the-clock care in another state, her parents have been unable to work. That’s why friends of the Montoya family and other community members are coming together to help them out for the holidays.  

For $25 a ticket, they are hosting a Benefit Dinner and Dance at the FOP (Airport Road) on Dec. 9 from 6 p.m. to midnight.  

“We’re going to have catering from Dulce Bakery, DJ Optimistic is going to be there, the Smooth Santana tribute band is also going to be there,” Joshua said. “We’re just raising as many funds as possible until we are able to go back to New Mexico.” 

The family is also accepting donations through GoFundMe.