A 16-year-old Nicaraguan girl who was flown to Los Robles Regional Medical Center last week for open-heart surgery was released Wednesday and will be placed in a foster home in Valencia, hospital officials said.
Birgit Neumann, spokeswoman for lead surgeon Mohammad Gharavi, said that Sara Maria Garcia's mitral valve replacement is working smoothly and that she will most likely return to Nicaragua in five to six weeks.
Sara was released to foster parents set up by Healing the Children, a child advocacy and medical group based in California. Sara was discovered in February after the group visited Nicaragua.
The Thousand Oaks hospital, doctors and a heart valve manufacturer underwrote the cost of the operation, estimated at $45,000.
Sara was not shy about thanking the people who helped her. She gave flowers and candy to doctors and nurses at the hospital and wrote a thank-you note to Gharavi, saying, "My heart belongs to you. Thank you, Sara."