IIliana Treviño, a fourth grader at Robb Elementary School, lost her best friend, Amerie Jo Garza, in last month’s mass shooting at the Uvalde, Texas, school.
According to IIliana’s mother, Amerie, 10, would protect IIliana, 11, from school bullies. After visiting Amerie’s memorial last week, Iliana’s heart rate spiked. Her mother rushed her to the hospital, where doctors told her IIliana had been on the verge of having a heart attack. More than a week later, she remains hospitalized.
“I think it’s just from a broken heart that we need to work on healing,” Jessica Treviño, 40, tells PEOPLE, adding that her daughter had no previous medical issues that might have predicted this.
“Everything just broke her in half, and she feels the fear of being bullied again,” she says.
On the day of the shooting, Illiana escaped physically unscathed after the gunman walked past her fourth grade classroom. But Amerie was shot as she tried to dial 911 on her cell phone, according to Amerie’s grandmother, Berlinda Arreola. When Illiana saw Amerie’s face on the news as one of the fatal victims, “she just started screaming and crying,” Jessica tells PEOPLE.
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SOURCE: PEOPLE, Wendy Grossman Kantor