Searching for Hope…

Ana

Yesterday afternoon, I was having lunch with friends in Concord when I received a call from our friend and Honduran coordinator, Ana Hernandez. A family from Tegucigalpa had arrived at her house ( 1 1/2 hours away) looking for help from “the Americans” (us) for their 11 year old son. I asked how they knew about us, and her reply was, “they had talked with a friend of a relative of a child you helped who had a heart problem.”

This extremely impoverished family had gathered together enough money to travel to Ana’s in search of hope for their child. And now Ana was on the phone with me over 2,000 miles away, trying to explain the child’s medical condition. This young boy had been to the doctor in Tegucigalpa and was told he had skin cancer, and now he was wearing bandages over his eyes and had lost his sight.

Unfortunately, doctors give very minimal information to patients and parents, and often times it is not accurate. Therefore, many Hondurans have very little trust in the medical profession and believe that American doctors will offer better care. Thankfully, over the years we have developed some very trustworthy relationships with Honduran doctors. They are extremely accessible to us (giving their cell phone numbers) and will see our patients promptly. Peggy Kipps, executive director of The Ruth Paz Foundation will refer our patients to the American brigades she coordinates.

Although we cannot always offer a cure for the patients, we are able to give the parents accurate medical information in a compassionate manner. We also offer other resources (ie. physical therapy, medications, medical aids) which can assist the patient and their families with living with a particular illness or injury.

Last evening Tom (a pediatrician) talked with a woman assisting this child in need. She described his condition in greater detail and Tom asked for photos to be sent ASAP. We will be sending this child to San Pedro Sula to be seen by an eye specialist who treated one of our other children born with congenital glaucoma (and now has restored vision).

Once again we are reminded of Ana’s critical role in our work in Honduras. Without her, none of this would be happening. Ana offers her bilingual skills, endless hours of commitment to “her people”, is incredibly resourceful, has trusted relationships in every corner from her neighbors, to political officials to the medical community. She is very intelligent about everything from how the water system works to explaining to us local customs, traditions and beliefs. She truly is the Honduran heart and soul of Esperanza, and we are grateful for her presence in our lives.

“It takes a village…”

Verinice

It certainly does “take a village to raise a child”, and in this situation, to save a child’s life. Lori Cordova, RN and coordinator of the Friends of Barnabas Foundation’s cardiac medial brigades in Honduras, met Berenice Elizabeth last September. At that time, the cardiologists realized she had pulmonary stenosis and would need open heart surgery. Although they were able to operate on many other children, it was determined she would need to travel to the states for this operation.

Lori was introduced to me by Peggy Kipps, executive director of the Ruth Paz Foundation in San Pedro Sula. Peggy and I have known each other for several years and have worked together with many patients in Honduras, and also many who have traveled to Boston for medical treatment.

Esperanza has brought two other cardiac patients to Boston for treatment, so once again I turned to our trusted friends at Tufts Medical Center and The Ray Tye Medical Aid Foundation. Working with Deb Bunk,P.A. and Ken Warner, MD at Tufts, they reviewed Berenice’s medical reports and determined this was a child they could help. Dr. Warner has generously offered to donate his services free of charge.

The application for RTMAF was completed, which includes information regarding the patient and a cost estimate from Tufts. Terri Carlson informed us that Vernice’s case has been accepted! We are now in the process of obtaining Berenice’s medical visa which requires letters from Tufts, RTMAF, Tom and Emily Collins (temporary legal guardians/host family), as well as a letter from a Honduran doctor stating the operation couldn’t be done within country, a letter from the Ruth Paz Foundation (well known with the U.S. Embassy), legal authorization from Berenice’s parents allowing Lori Cordova to transport the baby and for the Collins’ to have (temorary) custody. The family will also need a notorized letter giving the Collins’ the ability to authorize medical treatment.

We are anxiously awaiting 8 month old Berenice’s arrival at the end of February. Our gratitude to each and everyone who is offering this child the gift of life.