Freshman volleyball player Julieta Valdes suffered a cardiac arrest on Sunday, May 3, and is in the ICU at Texas Children’s Hospital battling for her life. The 6-1 OH is from nationally-ranked The Woodlands HS (Texas) and Houston Juniors VBC 16 Elite.
Valdes was working out when she collapsed and spent several minutes without a pulse. She underwent surgery on Monday, a necessary and successful step in the right direction. She was in a medically-induced coma thereafter.
UPDATE, MAY 12TH: Valdes FaceTimed coach Pratt to say she couldn’t wait to get back on the volleyball court. Valdes’ MRI shows zero brain damage and the doctors have called her “a walking miracle.”
UPDATE, MAY 11TH: On the morning of the 11th, Valdes’ brother Xavier wrote that her doctors said, “It is amazing that she is doing so well, so fast.” Valdes would undergo surgery to place an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD), a device that would automatically shock her heart back into rhythm, should she ever go back into cardiac arrest in the future. Later on the 11th, Xavier said, “Julieta is a lot more awake now and she spends pretty much all day joking around with my mom. We even got a chance to FaceTime with her for about an hour and her spirits were at an all-time high along with her sense of humor.”
UPDATE, MAY 10TH (Mother’s Day): Patty, Julieta’s mother, wrote a heartbreaking and hopeful letter saying, “The worst fear of any mother is to watch their kids die. Last Sunday, I saw my daughter Julieta dead for approximately 15 minutes, something that I do not wish upon anyone. My world stopped. I could not think or breathe; I did not even know what to do. When I heard that they finally felt a pulse on her, it was as if life was coming back to me, and I once again gained back my consciousness and senses. She was alive, she is alive, and that is all that matters to me. From there, the next 24 hours were of vital importance, full of emotions, doubts, tears, but also full of love and prayers towards Julieta and my family, something that I could have never imagined. So many people from so many places have offered to help that, even though I am all alone in the ICU with Julieta, I feel accompanied and supported by all of you.”
Later she goes on to say that her daughter is now talking, asking for a hug, she wants to eat, and all the things we take for granted every day.
“I know it sounds somewhat cliché, at least I would have thought it did a week ago, but I beg you to hug your children as much as you can, give them as many kisses as they will allow you to, and tell them that you love them. Happy Mother’s Day.”
UPDATE MAY 9TH: Valdes is off the ventilator and is finally able to stay alive on her own. From Francisco, Valdes’ father: “Just now, Julie was awake and sufficiently lucid for the first time to tell her mother that she loved her, and she asked for a hug. Miracles do happen!”
UPDATE, MAY 7TH: Valdes’ father Francisco and brother Xavier have been updating a Caring Bridge journal with updates about Julieta’s condition. The doctors removed her ECMO (life support) and, while still under supervision and supported by a ventilator, Valdes is able to stay alive on her own.
“Her heart is pumping like a champ,” wrote Francisco Valdes. “Her blood pressure and heart rate are where they should be. So as the nurses said, the torture inflicted by her coaches and trainers is paying off.
“The only thing that is not yet pulling its own weight are her lungs. As sedated as she is, the ventilator will remain controlling the rhythm and volume of air taken. Tomorrow she will be with fewer sedatives, more awake, and hopefully, she will start setting the pace of her breathing. If everything goes well, she is still on schedule to be off the ventilator by the weekend.”
UPDATE, MAY 8TH: Xavier Valdes wrote: “Julieta continues to recover according to plan. The doctors continued to lower Julieta’s sedatives throughout the night because the more sedated she is the less work her lungs do on their own while the ventilator assists more. Since the doctor’s plan to remove the ventilator potentially tomorrow, the sedatives need to gradually decrease so they can better assess Julieta’s lung function before they green-light the procedure […]
“The doctors plan on performing an MRI of her heart and brain so they can try to get a better idea of what caused Julieta’s cardiac arrest along with assessing both organ’s current condition.”
The following is the original article published on May 5th:
“Everyone is devastated and scared!” said The Woodlands’ Terri Wade.
Valdes’ sister Patty has been providing updates to HJV, who is then relaying the message on social media and on the GoFundMe page the club has set up. The original $25,000 goal was met and the campaign has climbed to over $31,000 in less than 12 hours.
HJV club director Stephanie Rhodes said, “Houston Juniors would like everyone to know that [mother] Patty Valdes says she can feel the love and so can we! In this pandemic, we are a volleyball family. Please keep the prayers coming!”
On May 5 at 10:15 AM, Valdes’ sister Patty said that the sedative had been wearing off and she woke up a couple of times throughout the night. “They gave her more sedative but they said it was really good news that she was waking up and getting confused by her surroundings because that meant she’s not actually unconscious on her own too if that makes sense. They’re going to run some more studies today. Keep the prayers coming, they are working!”
Three hours later (May 5 at 1:15 PM), Patty said that “the machine that is helping Julieta’s heart pump blood is running at 30-percent as of now, meaning that Julieta has been able to do a lot of the work on her worn. They are planning on removing it tomorrow!”
The latest update as of 7:15 PM on May 5 came from Julieta’s mother. She said, “Please tell everyone who has reached out that we appreciate all the support and encouragement that we are receiving and thank them from the bottom of our hearts. The only thing that we ask for is their prayers to fuel the small miracle that God, the doctors, and our little warrior are performing.”
In the 2019 season, Julieta Valdes was a PrepVolleyball Frosh 59 selection, Newcomer of the Year by the Montgomery Courier, GHVCA, and TAVC, and First Team All-District. With a great arm and tough serve, Valdes helped The Woodlands to a top-six place in the state and was in the midst of a great start to the 2020 club season. Valdes is considered one of the top recruits in the class of 2023.
The volleyball community, particularly in Texas, has publicly
shown an outpouring of support with messages of hope and promises of thoughts and
prayers for Valdes. As #VolleyOn re-posted about Valdes, the encouragement has been
“It’s amazing to look through all who have donated and to see junior clubs, USA team members, and former college coaches donating,” said HJV’s Kara Pratt. “She isn’t out of the woods yet, so please, continue to pray.”
Visit the GoFundMe page set up for Valdes to donate if you wish and learn updates about her condition.