April 5, 2019 11:06 am

Patient Story: Carol

Written by Caroline Appert

We’d like to introduce you to Carol, one of MEDLIFE’s follow-up patients in Lima, Peru. Her story is intense and complex, especially for being only 18 years old, but we would like to share it with you in hopes that it may inspire you to take action to support her situation.

At 15, Carol gave birth to her first child with a partner who was physically and emotionally abusive, secluded her from family and friends, and refused to get her medical attention. She remained out of touch with her family until about a year and a half later, when she showed up on her parent’s porch 5 months pregnant with another child. Her partner had not allowed her to go to any prenatal checkups. After much insisting, her mother Estela was able to take Carol to her first check-up at 7-8 months pregnant.

Carol

Carol and her partner then moved into her parents' home. Carol’s partner was constantly coughing but refused to seek medical treatment. Carol then began to suffer from headaches and a decline in her general health. With her condition worsening, her partner ran away with their oldest child, who was 3 years old at the time. The family had no way to track them down. They have filed a police report but there have been no updates.

Around this same time, Carol and her newborn were diagnosed with syphilis. Estela is worried that the 3-year-old might have it too, but doubt that Carol’s partner would seek medical attention for the child in any case.

Carol has since been diagnosed with tuberculosis and is now bedridden. Her primary caretaker is her mother. Estela and her husband Guzman, Carol's step-father, do everything they can to support Carol: buy her the supplies she needs, and make all the necessary doctor appointments, but the reality of their situation is grave and they need support.

MEDLIFE’s History with Carol

Carol came to a MEDLIFE Mobile Clinic in 2017 with gynecological concerns. After the clinic, we were able to deliver the medicine she needed based on her diagnosis, but two months later we went to check on Carol as a part of our patient follow-up protocol, and she had moved. None of the neighbors knew where she had gone, nor how to get in contact with her.

In December 2018, Carol’s mother came to another MEDLIFE Mobile Clinic. She asked for a doctor to visit her sick daughter in their home. Without knowing who the patient was, MEDLIFE staff, a doctor, and a few volunteers headed to the family’s home to visit the patient, and from this chance encounter, we became reconnected with Carol.

MEDLIFE immediately enrolled Carol into our patient follow-up program once again and has since learned the details of her story and medical condition. At this point, the tuberculosis has spread to her brain and caused permanent damage. Carol is currently bedridden, has almost no motor skills, and is barely verbal, but she is conscious and aware - improving ever so slightly.

When we first came to Carol’s home in late December 2018, she was nonverbal. When we visited again in early March 2019, she was able to hold her own feeding tube and nod her head. She can stick her tongue a little bit out of her mouth and sits up for short periods of time if properly supported. Estela tells us that a few weeks ago Carol was able to say “Mama” for the first time since becoming so ill. This gives Estela and their family hope, as it contrasts from the prognosis they were given in July when the doctor who evaluated Carol was told she had a week to live.

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Guzman works and has access to insurance, but since Carol became ill after she turned 18 she is ineligible to use that insurance. Carol is on Peru’s national safety-net health insurance network, Seguro Integral de Salud (SIS), and is getting treatment from Maria Auxiladora Hospital where they often have to wait up to two hours past their appointment time to be seen. This insurance also does not cover the cost of the other supplies needed for the treatment.

Though the family has received support from a local TV show, a local church, and Partners in Health (Socios en Salud), they still lack basic necessities to properly care for Carol in their home.


For now, we hope to support Carol by improving her and her family’s quality of life in any small scale way we can. You can contribute by donating to the MEDLIFE General Fund or signing up for a Service Learning Trip. Any donations fundraised for Carol will go toward purchasing items that will support her treatment and care.

Meet some of the amazing follow-up patients that visited one of our January Mobile Clinics in the communities surrounding Lima, Peru.

When 191 MEDLIFErs from the University of Puerto Rico Arecibo, the University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras, the University of Puerto Rico Interarecibo, the University of Chicago, Rush College, Barry University, Dawson College, the University of California Berkeley, Rowan University, Cornell University, John Hopkins University, the College of St. Scholastica, the University of Nevada, the College of Dupage, the Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf, and the College Bois-de-Boulogne came together in January for a Service Learning Trip in Lima, Peru they never could have imagined that their clinic alone would provide quality medical care to 2,111 people.

These are a few of the amazing people we met. Thanks to your dedication to the Movement and specifically your participation in Service Learning Trips, they are getting quality healthcare and treatments. As we share their stories, we hope to inspire others to take action and join us as we continue working hand in hand with communities to create a world free from the constraints of poverty. We invite you to tell your friends and family about your experiences in Lima and encourage them to join a Service Learning Trip so they can have an impact too.

Let’s meet some of our Lima Mobile Clinic follow-up patients!


Meet Marco:

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Marco is a 12-year-old boy who is deaf. When he was three years old he fell from the second floor of his grandparent's house and suffered major cerebral trauma and seizures. He was in the hospital for over a month and when he was discharged he had lost the ability to hear, speak, and walk. He completed some physical therapy, regaining the ability to walk and talk. However, he never recuperated his hearing. 

He had to repeat two years of school because of behavioral problems and a lack of specialized assistance. However, he has now learned to read and he loves to draw. There are some anger and behavioral issues at home that stem from a lack of comprehension within the household. He can read lips and he is vocal, but nobody in the house knows sign language.

MEDLIFE is going to do an auditory exam and hopefully help his family buy hearing aids. The doctor also recommended that the parents speak with a psychologist to learn how to better emotionally support Marco at home.

Meet Maya: 

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Maya is Marco’s 8-year-old sister. She has been experiencing headaches and light sensitivity. She lives with her family very high up in the hills of Villa Maria, and when she comes home from school she experiences headaches and lightheadedness.

The doctor noticed that some of her eyelashes have fallen out and that she has white patches on her face and neck. She is going to get some blood panels to see if she could have an autoimmune disease.

Check out more stories about Lima Winter Clinic Follow-Up Patients!


A huge thank you to all of our Winter Mobile Clinic participants for their hard work and dedication to the MEDLIFE Movement!

You can impact the lives of people just like Marco and Maya when you sign up for a Service Learning Trip. For more information, contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

MEDLIFE’s Winter Mobile Clinics provided quality healthcare to 4,217 people in the communities surrounding Lima. Beyond that, 51 of those people were enrolled in our patient follow-up program and we want to introduce you to a few of them so you can see the lasting impact Service Learning Trips have on individual lives.

Why Patient Follow-Up?

While our Mobile Clinics bring quality healthcare directly to the poor, we know that when patients are simply referred to local hospitals for treatments at the end of the week they often fail to receive the actual treatment they need. Our year-round patient follow-up program offers patient care to supplement and help navigate the complex systems across our sites - providing financial resources for treatments, emotional support, nutritional assistance for malnourished families, and educational resources to help individuals better understand their conditions.  

These are a few of the amazing women we met this winter. They are getting quality healthcare and treatments, all thanks to your dedication to the Movement and specifically your participation in Service Learning Trips. Join a trip today!

Let’s meet some of our Lima winter Mobile Clinic follow-up patients!


Nora

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Nora adores her two children, a 9-year-old and a 2-year-old.

But it has been hard for her since being diagnosed with Type II diabetes last February. During her most recent pregnancy, she was considered high risk because she had two previous miscarriages and she began to experience intense depression. Then her 2-year-old was born very prematurely, which caused a series of complications - including a heart problem. Nora continued to struggle with depression during this period, causing her to gain weight and heightened her risk for diabetes.

Nora has lost 30 kilograms (approximately 66 pounds) since her diabetes diagnosis. The next steps in her treatment will include a full kidney panel, a change in diet with increased exercise, and a referral to meet with a psychologist. Our team is here to support Nora in any way possible - and we’re hoping the results from her kidney panel are normal so she can return to her kids happier and healthier than ever!

 Mileydi Marlene 

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Mileydi Marlene has a tumor on her cheek that the doctor believes to be a growth of the bone, which she said she’s had since she was a little girl.

The Peruvian public health insurance company, Seguro Integral de Salud, offered to cover a small portion of an operation, but since it is a complicated surgery it would cost at least double what they’ve offered. Frustrated, she turned to a MEDLIFE Mobile Clinic for support.

Mileydi Marlene is going to have an exam of the tumor as well as an appointment with a plastic surgeon to see what next steps can be taken to remove it, and our team will be with her every step of the way!

 Kimberly

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Kimberly has rosacea - a condition that causes redness and often small, red, pus-filled bumps on the face. While she is taking precautionary measures to care for herself, we referred her to a dermatologist. Our MEDLIFE nurses joined her at the appointment, and the doctor prescribed her topical medications to ease her condition.

However, the medications have to be prepared by a lab - they can’t just be bought over the counter. So MEDLIFE Lima Nurse Carmen brought the prescription to a pharmacy to have it prepared, and then gave Kimberly the medication and instructions on how to apply it at a follow-up appointment. Kimberly will have a check-up in a month with the dermatologist where we hope to hear positive results!


 Thanks to all our Winter Service Learning Trip participants for their hard work on Mobile Clinics!

Are you interested in joining the Movement and supporting patients like Nora, Mileydi Marlene, and Kimberly on a Mobile Clinic? There is still time to sign-up for a spring or summer Service Learning Trip!

November 1, 2018 2:03 pm

Meet the Patient: Zaida

Written by Lindsay Mahaney

Meet Zaida — she’s a super mom.

Zaida is a 27 year old, hard-working single mother from the community of Las Colinas outside of Lima, Peru. From the moment you meet her, you can see the determination in her eyes. She is the first to tell you that everything she does is for her 2 daughters who are 9 and 4 years old.

IMG 9488 1Zaida is a devoted mother who works hard everyday to support her children.

About 4 years ago, her partner left her without financial support to take care of her two daughters. After months of not receiving child support, Zaida began working with a recycling program in which she collected papers and bottles for companies that will pay a small amount for each thing you collect.

Unfortunately, she had nowhere to leave her daughters and wasn’t making enough money to support them. She would not sacrifice paying for the education of her children, so she took matters into her own hands.

Zaida took out a small loan from the bank, bought a moto-taxi, and recruited a neighbor to teach her to drive. It worked! Though she is still living in conditions of extreme poverty, she has enough money to sustain her life with her daughters. That is until there is an unexpected expense.

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This is the home Zaida and her children share together.

We met Zaida at a MEDLIFE Mobile Clinic, where she brought her two daughters through the stations at the free, high-quality clinic we offered near her home. She had preventative exams such as general medicine check-up, a Pap smear, and a breast exam. During these tests, the local professional doctors working at the MEDLIFE clinic discovered a lump in her breast. Our nurses enrolled Zaida into our follow-up patient program and took her to the clinic to get it examined, where the doctor recommended immediate surgery as he suspected it was mastitis. But, in the public hospital system, surgeries are scheduled months in advance so her scheduled date would not be immediate.

IMG 9495 2Zaida weaves through the tiny paths of her community to get to her house.

MEDLIFE, hoping to accelerate the process, has been paying for private clinic appointments for Zaida. After a few more appointments, the doctor discovered her ex-partner had TB, and it was very likely that her issue was TB of the breast. The situation became even more urgent. In order to accelerate the operation date, we were looking for donations to supplement the higher cost of surgery at a private clinic.

IMG 9508 1Las Colinas, the community where Zaida and her daughters live, can be found in the foothills surrounding Lima.

Thanks to clients who traveled with our partner travel agency Good Life Expeditions, Zaida’s operation at a private clinic is fully funded! Good Life Expeditions evolved out of MEDLIFE when volunteers kept asking to extend their trips to explore the beautiful countries they were volunteering in. Rather than outsourcing to other companies that didn’t align with our values – we spotted an opportunity – establishing an inhouse travel agency to create authentic, meaningful travel experiences, AND generate much-needed income for MEDLIFE.

Through their support, Zaida will be able to return to her daughters healthy - sooner than ever!

May 9, 2018 9:04 am

Meet the patient: Juan Padilla

Written by Melanie Neyra

In 2016, Juan Padilla's life took an unexpected turn. He was aggressively assaulted, leaving him completely blind.

 

The Story of Juan

Juan lives with his wife and daughter in his deceased parents' house in Pamplona Baja, San Juan de Miraflores, one of the most dangerous districts of Lima, Peru. Two years ago, he was a taxi driver and the only economic support of his family, until he got assaulted on his way home from work.

As he was walking home, five men got off a moto-taxi, took all of his belongings, and then began kicking him until he dropped onto the street. But this wasn't enough for them and before leaving, they threw a chemical in his eyes. This is a technique that robbers use to keep their victim from recognizing them in the police station.  

 

Meet the patient: Juan PadillaJuan Padilla, in his parent's house, where he lives with his 4 siblings and his family

 

He was left in the street, and his left eye began swelling and turning purple. When Juan's wife saw him, she took him to a local hospital, Maria Auxiliadora, but they couldn't help him without an appointment. After three long months, he was finally able to see a doctor. Unfortunately, after waiting so long, it was too late to start treatment for his left eye and he had permanently lost his vision. But the doctor told him with surgery, he could save the sight in his right eye.

After the surgery, Juan was showing signs of recovery and began to do some simple work. He helped his friend trim threads on the t-shirts he was making to support the Peruvian soccer team, so he could support his family and cover some of his medical costs. But this wasn't enough.  

How MEDLIFE Got Involved

One day, Zoila Dorado, a friend of Juan’s that knew MEDLIFE through its mobile clinics, told him how the organization helps provide quality health care for people who can’t otherwise access it. Juan didn't hesitate to reach out and contacted one of MEDLIFE's nurses, Ruth.

When Ruth heard his story, she knew she had to do something, so she enrolled Juan in MEDLIFE's follow-up patient program. First, MEDLIFE supported him by paying for his medicine and special glasses, but since he had stopped working, this wasn't a sustainable solution for his family or for MEDLIFE.

Luckily, thanks to volunteers that participated in a Service Learning Trip, we were able to give Juan a carrito sanguchero (sandwich cart), where his wife could begin to work selling things like burgers and orange juice. They couldn’t stop smiling when they were presented with the cart, knowing that they would be able to make an income again.

 

Juan's family inaugurating their new carrito sangucheroJuan's family inaugurating their new carrito sanguchero

 

But the story doesn’t end there. A few months passed, when Juan was assaulted once again. His attackers hit him so hard with a baseball bat this time that his glasses broke. Even in this incredible pain, Juan stood up and went home. On his way into his kitchen, it all turned black. Juan was completely blind.

At first he was depressed, but thanks to his family, MEDLIFE volunteers, staff, and donors, he has been given hope.

 

IMG 4830MEDLIFE staff giving him a walking stick and a special watch

 

Juan’s Hopes for the Future

Now, Juan is enrolled in a program in CERCIL (Lima’s rehabilitation center for the blind), where they teach him how to live and develop professionally. It also connects him to fellow blind people, which makes him feel he isn’t alone and gives him the opportunity to swap stories and advice.

Juan told us there was a man from Ica, “and he came to CERCIL asking for help. He likes sports, especially running, and now is about to participate in the Pan American games. This made me ask myself - if this man can do it, why can't I?”

 

By attending a Service Learning Trip, you help us support MEDLIFE follow-up patients like Juan Padilla, and give them hope for a better future.

 

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