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

Paula Durán and Sergio Vega, who were young Colombian spouses, decided to emigrate to the United States in search of new opportunities. They embarked on this adventure with their daughters, aged 4 and 9, accompanied by some friends and family.

Filled with exuberant excitement, they discovered that their third offspring was en route a few weeks later, following their journey on foot, they reached Concord, located in northern California, where they established their new home.

Sergio Vega, as a member of the Colombian national indoor soccer team, was somewhat of a prominent figure. As per an article in Semana magazine, Sergio had to depart from his homeland after he started receiving threats from criminal factions in the area, who did not approve of the positive impact this individual, along with fellow colleagues, was having on the lives of youths and children through an organization and athletic activities.

Baby Juan José, referred to as such by his father, was born on November 28th of the previous year, defying the odds as a resilient symbol of life, despite the numerous health challenges faced by Paula. In response to the critical conditions she was dealing with, the medical professionals determined that an urgent cesarean section was necessary. Paula received the diagnosis of a four-centimeter brain tumor, along with preeclampsia and pancreatitis, during a prenatal examination after experiencing several instances of discomfort, when she was thirty-four weeks into her pregnancy.

Sergio stated during an interview with BluRadio, “My divine being has imbued me with resilience … He resided in an enclosed unit for a duration of three weeks … My spouse was battling cancer while my offspring was struggling to survive.”

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.”

“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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.