12-year-old José Alejandro Salazar was a year and a half old doctors found a cancerous tumor in his eye. Fortunately for Jose the doctors were able to remove the cancer.
Unfortunately, this meant removing his eye as well. Jose lived with a patch over his eye for six months until he was finally able to receive an artificial eye. All the family could afford at the time was a poor quality plastic eye that had to be changed every year. Jose is reluctant to go to school now because his current eye causes the lower eye lid to protrude out. In addition to the effect on his physical appearance, it's painful. Jose needs an operation that will give him a new eye made of a better materials that will not have to be changed. The operation is inexpensive by U.S. standards—only $300. But in Nicaragua, especially for Jose's mother who is the sole support for him and his younger sister, the $300 might as well be $3 Million. Partners International Foundation is trying to raise $300 so this young boy can get the operation he needs. If you feel that you can help, you can do so in several ways:
The young humanitarian behind this project is Erin Peck. Erin graduated from Quinnipiac University in December 2005 with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Spanish. She's applied for an internship with the Arias Foundation in Costa Rica as well as a Masters Program at the University for Peace in Costa Rica. Erin is currently living in León, Nicaragua working at an English Academy called Alianza Americana. Erin is teaching English to both children and adults. She arrived in Nicaragua last year as part of a humanitarian delegation to build gardens for rural community elementary school. Her university (Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT) formed an alliance with Alianza Americana and Erin first found out about it when she arrived in Nicaragua last March.
Erin fell in love with the people and the culture and knew she had to come back. She returned to Nicaragua in January of this year and will continue teaching here until the middle of May. Erin is the one who brought Jose story to us, and the one who will update us on his progress through the operation. There are very few opportunities in this world to actually see the impact your support has on another human being. This is one of those opportunities.
Jose Alejandro went into surgery at 7:30 am and was in the a ¨recovery room¨ by 8:45 am. He was home in bed by 1:10 PM.
The speed of his discharge and austere post-operative medical care were a lesson in the medical practices of developing countries for Erin Peck.
Jose walked out of the hospital himself after the nurse disconnected his IV and left Erin and Jose's family to dress him and leave. Erin was present throughout the procedure and discharge and never saw a doctor, although she was told that he briefly spoke with Jose's mother following the operation to tell her that all was well and write out a "prescription".
The room Jose recovered in had no fan or any breeze in it and he was wearing a hospital gown with a number on it. Erin, Jose, his mother, her friend, and Jose's father all squeezed into a taxi where Jose sat on his mother's lap on the bumpy way home from the hospital.
Erin recounts the events:
It was very strange for me and I felt very uncomfortable in the hospital because I worried for Alejandro. No one was around to help him as he got out of bed and we just left his hospital gown on the metal bed and left. He got nauseous as we were walking out of the hospital and he got sick in a garbage can, but no one was around to help so we paused for a moment and then just kept walking and eventually left the hospital. The doctor gave Lupe (his mom) instructions on what types of medications to purchase at the pharmacy (which are basically peoples´ homes that they sell medication from) but she was confused and worried because she didn´t understand what the doctor wrote.
As can be seen in the updated photos, Jose has a big bandage over his eye and they took skin from his side to put on his cheek as part of the reconstructive surgery. He has to stay home from school for a week and on Thursday they are going to Managua, the capital of Nicaragua for the check up with the doctor. For Erin, it was quite an experience. "There were other people just waiting on benches in hospital gowns as we walked through the hallways," she tells us, "so different from home in the US."
Jose and his family what to once again thank everyone that supported Jose Alejandro and his family. It is not everyday that we are able to see the direct results of the help we give a family in need.
Erin visited Jose's mother Lupe yesterday (Alejandro was actually at a friends house...he is doing VERY well) and she was so excited and happy because Alejandro is now able to blink. He has movement in his eyelids, something he hasn't had in years.
When they took the skin from his stomach and thigh, they not only added it to his cheek but also to the INSIDE of his eye socket as well and reconnected some nerves so he now has the capabilities to move his eyelids. Lupe was ecstatic!
Erin took more pictures from last Thursday and will upload them soon.
Jose and his mother went back to Managua today to visit the doctor one last time. When they went last Thursday the doctor said that the operation was 100 percent successful!