While awaiting heart transplant, Downers Grove girl wishes to meet Drake for her birthday

  • Sofia Sanchez of Downers Grove has spent the last several weeks waiting for a new heart at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital. She has two wishes for her 11th birthday Saturday: To get her new heart and to meet her idol, Drake.

    Sofia Sanchez of Downers Grove has spent the last several weeks waiting for a new heart at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital. She has two wishes for her 11th birthday Saturday: To get her new heart and to meet her idol, Drake. COURTESY OF JAN TERRY, LURIE CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL

 
 
Updated 8/16/2018 3:56 PM

A Downers Grove girl awaiting a heart transplant is wishing for more than a medical miracle for her birthday this year. She also wants to meet her favorite musical artist, Drake.

Sofia Sanchez, who turns 11 on Saturday, has spent the last seven weeks waiting for a new heart at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago. She has been listening to Drake's music to lift her spirits during her stay, said mom, Natalie Sanchez, and was particularly inspired by the music video and lyrics to her favorite song, "God's Plan."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"That actually has been a big influence for her. She would say, 'God has a plan for me, too,' just like his song," Natalie Sanchez said Thursday. "She loved how he was giving back to the community. She just thinks he's a great guy."

Hoping to meet her idol, who is performing Friday and Saturday at the United Center, Sofia did the Kiki dance challenge to Drake's song, "In My Feelings," down the hospital hallway the day before she underwent open heart surgery. A video of the performance, posted online Wednesday, also features her 6-year-old cousin, Joshua Virgen, who she said taught her the dance.

A second video message filmed after the surgery shows Sofia in a hospital bed explaining the procedure and asking Drake to visit her at Lurie.

"I love your music," she said to Drake, "and I was hoping that you could come and cheer me up for my birthday."

Sofia was diagnosed this summer with cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle that often leads to heart failure. Her open heart surgery three weeks ago allowed doctors to connect a mechanical pump, called a VAD, to support her heart and blood flow.

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Sofia now is on the waitlist for a new heart, which typically takes three to six months, Natalie Sanchez said.

"We're very hopeful. We have a lot of faith, and we know everything's going to be OK," she said. "It's a waiting game at this point."

Meanwhile, the Sanchez family has received "overwhelming" support since Sofia's diagnosis, Natalie Sanchez said. Friends and neighbors raised about $4,800 at a lemonade stand fundraiser last month, she said, and a GoFundMe page has collected more than $40,000.

With hospital bills piling up and her mom unable to work, Sofia said she's grateful for the kindness shown by her loved ones and community members. When she gets out of the hospital, she said, she'll find a way to give back -- just like Drake does.

"It means a lot," Sofia said. "I have a lot of help here and support from everybody from Downers Grove."

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