Breaking News
More () »

New Orleans's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | New Orleans, Louisiana | WWLTV.com

Child from Philippines who came to N.O. for heart surgery finally gets to go home after travel issues kept her here

We are happy to report that Yana and her mom finally just made the 27-hour trip back home.


In February we told you about a little girl who had been brought to Louisiana and needed heart surgery to live

She was flown from her home in the Philippines, by the organization called HeartGift Louisiana. 

Doctors at Children’s Hospital fixed her heart defect but then the coronavirus pandemic came. And Yana and her mother could not go home. The host family in Covington agreed to have them stay for as long as they needed. 

We are happy to report that Yana and her mom finally just made the 27-hour trip back home.

Yana born with four heart defects.  

"And when I saw her picture I was like, 'Oh my God, like this little child,'" said Yehleen Gaffney who is part of a host family for HeartGift. 

John and Yehleen Gaffney volunteered as a host family for Yana and her mom Maria Ruby. 

Yehleen is from the same island, so they speak the same language. So the Gaffneys took them into their Covington home in early February. 

Stephanie Berault with HeartGift says first they had to be quarantined after flying through South Korea to get to New Orleans.  

"She was weak. She was frail. She was frequently blue. Her fingernails, her lips would be blue. She knew that she looked different than other children and she knew that she couldn’t do things that other children could do, said Stephanie Berault, the Executive Director of HeartGift Louisiana. 

Over the next several weeks surgeons fixed her heart.  Yana and her mom headed home. They made it as far as Los Angeles, where they got stuck for 24 hours.

They ended up needing to say in New Orleans until this week.