DOWNEY – Downey teen Eileen Garrido, who has raised millions of dollars benefiting children with cardiovascular illnesses, will undergo surgery for an enlarged heart June 10. Eileen, 14, was born with a congenital heart defect known as Tetralogy of Fallot, a condition in which the heart produces insufficient oxygen.
"[It] literally was causing me to suffocate," Eileen said.
After two successful heart surgeries, Eileen's damaged heart was repaired. A gifted vocalist, she established the Beating Hearts Foundation and sang around the country to raise money for children suffering from heart defects.
She also got involved in the Downey community. According to her website, she received the Downey Kiwanis Youth Service Award and was named an honorary princess by the Downey Rose Float Association in 2011.
"I was lucky that my parents had insurance. Unfortunately, not all children are as lucky as I was," said Eileen. "Many parents do not have the means needed to help provide for their sick children. That's where my foundation hopes to make a difference. Through musical performances, donations, and fundraisers, I raise money to help children with serious heart conditions just like mine.
Last November, doctors discovered complications with her pulmonary artery and valve, resulting in an enlarged heart. She will undergo heart surgery June 10.
But first, Eileen is working to raise $10,000 for the heart institute at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, which is performing the surgery. She wants to raise the money before June 10.
"It's her way of saying thank you for saving her life," said Carlos Garrido, Eileen's father.
"She's in good spirits and my wife and I are staying strong for her," Carlos added. "We have lots of father and know God will be looking over our little angel of music."
To contribute to Eileen's fundraising effort, go to support.chla.org/pages/eileen_garrido