CINCINNATI - Cincinnati Children's Hospital is one of the top pediatric care centers in the country. Some people have to travel thousands of miles for the expert care that we have right here.
When a little girl and her parents traveled from Mexico to the U.S. hoping the doctors at Cincinnati Children's Hospital could help them, the child could not eat or breathe on her own. Now, she can do all of these things.
For the first few years of her life, when Ana Victoria Montano would cry, there was no noise, just tears.
(Click here to see photos of Victoria's progress while on the road to recovery).
Victoria was born with a rare spinal tumor. The doctors in Mexico removed the tumor when she was just 2 days old. She spent the first three and a half months of her life in the intensive care unit. After going through extensive chemotherapy she contracted a bacterial infection that destroyed her airway and epiglottis. Victoria has been living with a tracheostomy to help her breath and a feeding tube.
Victoria's parents would not give up. Their surgeon in Mexico told them about Dr. de Alarcon, Director of the Center for Pediatric Voice Disorders at Children's Hospital in Cincinnati. The Montano's reached out to Dr. de Alarcon, knowing that Victoria's case was possibly one of the only ones in the world. Victoria's doctors in Mexico said this is a procedure that could only be performed at Cincinnati Children's.
"We saw many doctors in Mexico for this specific procedure but we couldn't find any," explained Victoria's father Isidro-Hernan Montano.
Victoria's parents spent months fundraising so that they could bring her to the Tri-State. They knew going into this that it wasn't a sure thing and that Children's might not be able to help them.
"Our surgical team all sat together and thought of some out of the box ways of dealing with her problem," said Dr. de Alarcon.
She had two surgeries to reconstruct her epiglottis in July and October of 2011.
"We initially took a part of that ear cartilage and buried it underneath the layering of the back of her tongue near where the normal epiglottis should be," said Dr. de Alarcon.
They went back to Mexico and Victoria began learning how to eat without her feeding tube.
"When she came back to us she was already eating on her own, completely all by mouth," said Dr. de Alarcon
Victoria and her parents moved back into the Ronald McDonald House in December for the final leg of their journey. Her airway was finally ready for the trach to be removed.
9 On Your Side was in the room when Victoria's mother took her trach out. It was like watching a miracle — a miracle that was four years in the making. It brought her mom dad and many others in the room to tears. When Victoria realized it wasn't going back in, she looked scared and started crying.
"At home a lot of times when a trach falls out accidentally, it's sort of panic, where everybody's running to get it back in," said Dr. de Alarcon.
Then she realized she could breath on her own, and the tears stopped.
There was a feeling of overwhelming joy when Victoria started breathing on her own.
"I'm very happy, it's one of the best news since she was born," said Isidro-Hernan Montano
Victoria is just like most little girls, she wears pink bows, loves her teddy bear and holds on to her daddy when she's scared. Now, thanks to the perseverance of her parents and the expert team of specialists at Children's Hospital, she will get to live the life of a normal little girl.
Victoria is back in Mexico and is doing well. Her family and friends say they are eternally grateful for work of Dr. de Alarcon.
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