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“She died in my arms”: A young mother’s suffering unites thousands in prayer


Facebook Sergio Vega

Paula Durán y su esposo Sergio Vega.

Lucía Chamat - published on 02/21/23

"My wife was fighting with cancer and my son was fighting for his life... My God has filled me with strength."

Sergio Vega and Paula Durán were young Colombian spouses who decided to emigrate to the United States in search of new opportunities. They set out on the adventure with their daughters, ages 9 and 4, along with some family and friends.

After crossing the border on foot, they arrived in Concord, northern California, where they settled. A few weeks later they found out that their third child was on the way, and they were full of joyful anticipation.

The couple with their two daughters, before the arrival of the third baby

According to an article in Semana magazine, Sergio Vega had to leave his country “after he began to receive threats from criminal groups in the region, who didn’t agree with the contributions this man, along with other partners, was making to the lives of young people and children through an organization and through sports.” Sergio was something of a public figure because he was a player of the Colombian national indoor soccer team.

A tumor and an emergency cesarean section

Thirty-four weeks into her pregnancy, during a prenatal check-up after several episodes of feeling ill, Paula was diagnosed with a four-centimeter tumor in her brain, preeclampsia, and pancreatitis. The doctors decided to perform an emergency cesarean section. Despite the high risk posed by Paula’s various afflictions, baby Juan José was born on November 28 last year, a “champion of life,” as his father calls him.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Sergio Vega (@sergiovega228711)

“My wife was fighting with cancer and my son was fighting for his life … He stayed in an incubator for three weeks … My God has filled me with strength,” said Sergio in an interview with the radio station BluRadio.

He also expressed his gratitude for the great solidarity shown by Colombians and people of different nationalities who joined this great campaign of prayer and support. Among them was Lorena Meritano, a Latin American actress, model, and television personality who is particularly famous in Colombia and Argentina. She accompanied them with messages of hope: “We continue praying for the miracle of love.”

Sergio clings to God, praying for his wife

“The most important game of my life”.

“I’m playing the most important game of my whole life. I have a fantastic team; the coach is God, and the players are the medical specialists and all of your prayers,” he wrote at the time in an Instagram post.

Paula and Sergio on their wedding day

Two days later, Paula underwent surgery to remove the tumor from her brain.

Her husband was optimistic about her recovery. However, a few days later the situation became more complicated and the news wasn’t encouraging: the disease had also reached her stomach. In early January she was given a month to live.

The miracle of the humanitarian visa

The 27-year-old’s health began to deteriorate – especially with the onset of blindness and an uncontrollable headache. People on social networks were praying for miracles: Juan José’s life, a humanitarian visa so that Paula’s parents could travel to the US, and Paula’s health.

Paula herself sent a video message to President Joe Biden, supported by the Colombian government.

The baby recovered, and the humanitarian tourist visa arrived for Éder Durán and Gloria Camargo, who were going to leave Colombia for the first time.

After several weeks, during which they were unable to obtain the visa and experienced great anguish, they were finally able to travel to California and be reunited with their daughter on January 19, who had left their country just one year ago full of dreams and plans.

Sergio is a player on the Colombian national indoor soccer team

Journalist Juan Diego Alvira, from Semana magazine, accompanied them and recorded a video of the more than 20-hour trip. At the airport, Gloria told him how the sorrow was getting the best of her, but she felt God’s love and her faith was still intact.

A mother’s love

The meeting with Paula, who had been sent home from the hospital a few weeks earlier, was very emotional and difficult for the parents. Gloria says that the young girl looked up and asked if her mother had arrived. “I’m here, I’m not going to move,” she answered as she squeezed her hands tightly.

In tears she commented, “I still believe that God is wonderful and perfect, that He made it possible for me to be here today. He helped us and will continue to help us.”

In the midst of suffering and hope, Gloria asked God “to trade my life for hers.” She told RCN News “that I would give her my eyes, my brain, my stomach, everything. At one point I fell apart because this isn’t easy. A mother loves her children and I’ve fallen apart many times, but God has me on my feet and here I’m here for her.”

Meanwhile, the story touched thousands of people, such as Colombian singer Fonseca, who accepted the invitation to serenade them live on January 21 when the couple celebrated 40 months of marriage.

Solidarity and prayers sustained the family and Paula herself as they continued to cry out for a miracle.

“I know I gave 101%”

Paula died on January 24. Despite the sorrow of the death of a young wife and mother, one good thing that has come to the fore is the prayerful unity of so many people in Colombia, the US, and many other countries. The example of this request for a “miracle of love” will remain engraved in the memory of those who witnessed this family struggle and pray.

Sergio Vega explained that he’d been there at the time of his wife’s death and said, “She died in my arms.” Despite his sorrow, he said, “I feel calm because I know I gave 101%.” He has demonstrated a husband’s love that fulfills the promise of loving in sickness and in health, until death.

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