While primary health care emphasizes prevention and continuity, some of our patients face diagnoses of serious and life-threatening illnesses. We are committed to helping our patients in these times of great need as well. Your generosity allows us to supplement the costs of ongoing care for patients who need it most.
Please make a donation to support crucial medical care for patients like these, who have agreed to tell their stories here. Note that names have been changed to protect their privacy.
In March 2012, for the first time in HHI’s history, our dedication to providing the best possible care to our patients demanded an international course of action. Jansel is a 19-year-old young man from Pancho Mateo, whom HHI brought to the United States to receive critical life-saving orthopedic surgery at Shriners Hospital for Children in Boston, MA. We met Jansel in September 2011 when, bedridden for nearly nine months after suffering a fractured leg in a motorcycle accident, he came to us with a deep tissue infection and incompletely healed bone — he had received no follow-up care after an initial operation post-accident. Despite receiving a second surgery in November, this time provided through HHI, Jansel’s infection continued to progress. In January 2012, he was diagnosed with extensive osteomyelitis in his tibia, placing him in danger of losing his leg, and indeed, his life.
The HHI team in the Dominican Republic worked for weeks to find a treatment option for Jansel. After consulting with orthopedic surgeons in the DR and the US, it became clear that all of the proposed options would likely result, ultimately, in amputation. The extent of infection demanded a complex operation and intensive recovery process that were not possible in-country — the hospitals did not have access to the required equipment and surgical techniques, and the required course of intravenous antibiotics could not be provided in the necessary sterile environment.
After reaching out to surgeons and hospitals across the United States, we made contact with Partners In Health, who generously and quickly jumped into action. PIH connected us with colleagues at Shriners, who reviewed and accepted Jansel’s case in a matter of days, leaving us grateful and relieved that he might — against all odds — have a chance at recovery. Jansel and his mother, Claris, secured passports; documentation and letters of advocacy were completed; the Shriners surgeons set a medical plan of action with the Dominican surgeons, who have supported and treated Jansel diligently over the last several months; and logistics were set in motion with the expert support of the Shriners social work department. The American Embassy in Santo Domingo approved their applications for emergency medical visas, and on March 20th, Jansel and Claris arrived in the United States.
Shriners Hospital is dedicated to providing the highest quality care to children with special healthcare needs, regardless of origin or background, and is therefore providing all of Jansel’s medical care at no cost. As the sponsoring agency, HHI has committed to providing Jansel and Claris with housing, meals, transportation, and all other necessary financial support during their time in Boston — which could extend for three months or more.
We have set a fundraising goal of $4,000 to support Jansel and Claris through this crucial surgery and recovery, and hope we can count on our supporters, friends, and volunteers to make this incredible opportunity a success. To donate, please click here and indicate “Operation Jansel” as the designation. For other ways you can help, and to learn more about Jansel and Claris’s journey, please read our email updates below:
February 28th – Urgent Care: Call to Action
March 16th – Operation Jansel: Special Update
March 31st – Connection to Care: Pancho Mateo to Boston
Antonia is a 34 year old mother of three whose family has repeatedly taken her to the local emergency room due to stomach and abdominal pain and vomiting. She came to the HHI Field Clinic seeking help because her family was unable to raise the funds for labs to find out what was wrong with her. HHI provided her with labs, an ultra sound, and a specialist consult with a Urologist, who diagnosed her with large kidney stones causing urine to collect in her kidneys. She needs a surgical proceedure to remove the urine and blockage so that her kidneys can function properly again. Antonia’s labs, consults, and surgical proceedure are costing US$300.00
Mercedes is a 71 year old grandmother of eighteen who loves exotic birds. She worked for 30 years cleaning other people’s houses but got paid little, while raising 8 kids, and was unable to save for retirement. She struggles with hypertension and type 2 diabetes and has been unable to afford regular doctor appointments to educate her about her illnesses, or medications to help her feel better. Over the past few years she has been repeatedly hospitalized in local hospitals with high blood pressure and elevated blood sugars, then sent home with no way to pay for medications or follow up. She was brought to the attention of HHI by one of the HHI community health workers who was her neighbor, and who reported she was concerned that Mercedes was feeling suicidal. Mercedes reported that she felt like dying because she was feeling sick all the time and didn’t think that there was anyone who could help her manage her illnesses. HHI enrolled Mercedes in our Chronic Care Program for her hypertension and diabetes. We now provide a Community Health Worker who checks on Mercedes regularly, as well as ongoing daily medication, and specialist appointments. Mercedes is feeling better and her symptoms are better controlled. Her occasional Cardiology and Diabetes specialist appointments, and her daily medications, cost approximately US$20 per month.
A bright young twenty-year-old, Soraida has already faced her fair share of challenges. An only child, Soraída was orphaned at the age of 12 after both her parents died of AIDS. Since then, she has also survived surgeries to remove a kidney and to treat early stages of cervical cancer. Soraída’s most recent health struggle began last September, when her left eye swelled up, and she started having headaches. In October, after receiving a consultation during an HHI MST, we took her to a neurosurgeon for a CT scan, at which point we learned that Soraida has polypoid masses occupying her left maxillary and ethmoid sinuses, and her left orbit. Since then, Soraída has seen a surgical oncologist, a radiologist, a hematologist, a maxillofacial surgeon, an ophthalmologist, and two otolaryngologists. We have finally located a doctor at a private hospital in Santiago who has the equipment and training necessary for this type of surgery, and we are currently waiting for Soraída’s anemia to resolve before he can operate. It has been a long road, with almost two dozen trips to various hospitals and clinics, but now, finally, the end may be in sight. Between the operation and follow-up care, this last step is expected to cost at least US$3,000. Throughout this ordeal, Soraida has kept up a positive attitude and her characteristic sense of humor. Smiling and flexing her muscles, she proclaims that she is a mujer fuerte (strong woman) who relies on the support of God and her adoptive family for strength.
Pablito is a 10-year-old boy whose mother came to our January MST for help with his recurrent seizures. Pablito had been prescribed an anticonvulsant two years earlier, after suffering multiple seizures over a 2-day period. However, his family was unable to consistently purchase the expensive medication for him, and Pablito would suffer from breakthrough seizures when untreated. HHI now provides Pablito with monthly anticonvulsants, costing approximately USD$30 per month.
Marisol has suffered from epilepsy since she was a teenager. Now 50 years old, for most of her life she was unable to afford the expensive anticonvulsant medication she had been prescribed. As a result, her seizure control was very sporadic, and Marisol suffered several seizures a week. In November, HHI started supplying Marisol with a daily anticonvulsant, and the resulting changes in Marisol are immediately apparent. She is no longer covered in bruises and scrapes from falling to the ground and seizing, and she has a new spring in her step without the constant fear of an imminent seizure. She reports feeling “muy fuerte” (very strong), and she is now able to care for her elderly mother, cook for her husband, and maintain her home. Marisol’s antiseizure medications cost USD$66 monthly.
In Memoriam: Amadito
A four-year-old boy, Amadito was originally brought to HHI’s September medical service trip after a bout of dengue fever left his right arm partially paralyzed. Shortly thereafter, he returned to the hospital in Puerto Plata due to what doctors suspected was leukemia. Because Amadito’s was so ill, he was sent to the children’s hospital in Santiago, where he received several blood transfusions over the course of a few weeks. Amadito’s mother hardly left his side while his father frequently slept on a bench outside the hospital in order to be near his son. Although chemotherapy is provided to children for free in the Dominican Republic, blood transfusions and lab tests come at a high price. HHI and Amadito’s family were together able to provide for these costs, but sadly, Amadito passed away on November 21st, 2010. His family and HHI’s International Programs Director Nicole were at his side. We continue to keep Amadito in our thoughts, to support his family in their grieving, and to honor his memory in all our work.