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.

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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!

We have some exciting news - the Wawa Wasi has grown so much that it has officially become our MED Center for Primary Education! Though this is only the first branch of what will eventually be a much larger scale project, this is a key step in progressing toward our ultimate goal of the MED Center and we are thrilled to tell you about it.

The Roots of the Project: The Wawa Wasi

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MEDLIFE worked with our longtime partner community of Union Santa Fe on the outskirts of Lima, Peru to build a physical structure to meet their self-identified needs: the Wawa Wasi. An effort in sustainable development, the idea for the building came from concerns expressed by community members that there was no safe place to leave their children while they went to work.

Rather than building a parallel educational system, we worked hand in hand with government programs already in place. In Lima, the government has a designated education program called CUNAMAS for children from 1 to 2 years. This program provides food, childcare, and education to children in low-income communities. Unfortunately, to qualify for the program the community must have a physical structure in place that offers a suitable and safe environment for the children. That is where MEDLIFE came in.

We constructed a building that could serve as a childcare center on the first floor. For a period of time, we operated hand in hand with CUNAMAS to offer childcare to families in the area. But as the community has grown and changed, their needs have also grown and changed. And to properly meet those needs, the Wawa Wasi has transitioned into to what is now the MED Center for Primary Education.

Becoming the MED Center for Primary Education

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The building has grown from a 1-floor day care center to a 3-floor multi-purpose center with workshops, professional services, and more. Through this growing process, it has become the first physical step in the development of our MED Center in the area. The full-scale MED Center will be a community center focused on particular development issues that the communities face. For example, some of our goals for the MED Center include offering a trade school for children and adults, basic medical and dental services, and providing a safe space for community meetings.

Between its physical growth and expansion of educational offerings, the former Wawa Wasi building and its services have truly embodied our first major step towards the MED Center, via the MED Center for Primary Education. So we thought it was time to officially change the name.

Currently, the MED Center for Primary Education is operating in a variety of ways, all rooted from listening to communities share with us about their needs and priorities. Though CUNAMAS is not currently running a childcare center, we are using the first floor to offer law consultations and psychology appointments from local professionals. We are hopeful that the partnership with CUNAMAS will resume in the coming months. On the second floor, we are offering unique and immersive workshops for children in the area. After school or during summer months, they can come to the MED Center for Primary Education to learn new skills and hobbies like karate, painting, and dance. Additionally, on weekends we have partnered with a local university so that students can volunteer their time to teach supplemental workshops.

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Finally, we are in the process of constructing a third floor for the MED Center for Primary Education and plan to work hand in hand with the community to decide what to offer in the space. It may be a computer area for teenagers to do their school work, a small business workshop for locals, or potentially an area for fun activities like movie nights!

Thanks for all of your support as we continue progressing this project. More updates to come soon!

Time is running out to raise $30,000 in support of Union Santa Fe as they build a retention wall in effort to get Land Title - which would provide the community with government resources to help build roads, schools, sanitation systems, and more. With a limited time frame, MEDLIFE is working day in and day out to reach our goal - but we can’t do it without you.

With your support, the MEDLIFE Movement can continue the fight to free Union Santa Fe from the constraints of poverty. All donations and funds raised to help Union Santa Fe get Land Title can be made to the MEDLIFE Project Fund. Please add a note to your donation that the money is for the Union Santa Fe Land Title.

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The Issue

MEDLIFE has worked side by side with the community of Union Santa Fe for years. Building staircases, working with the municipality to provide electricity, supporting childhood education in the area, providing free quality healthcare at Mobile Clinics, and more - all in support of the ultimate goal to obtain Land Title. And right now the community is closer than ever to gaining their Land Titles, as the government has given them the opportunity if they complete certain community development projects in the next 2 months.

While in many parts of the world securing land rights is not a major issue, it is a luxury for much of the world’s poor population. In rural areas like the southern communities of Lima, land is an essential means to sustain the community’s livelihood. Access to land is important for household welfare, economic growth, and reduction of poverty.

To eventually leave the constraints of poverty, communities like Union Santa Fe need access to basic resources mentioned previously (sanitation systems, water, roads, etc), which are accessible through the government when they obtain Land Title. But, there is a major contradiction. In order to obtain Land Title, they must already have those basic resources. In other words, Union Santa Fe lacks the basic resources to build things like roads, schools, sanitation systems, and retention walls, that are needed to obtain Land Title. But in order to tap into government resources that would provide them these things, they already need to have those Land Titles.

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The Solution: $30,000

One of the largest obstacles facing the community is building a $30,000 retention wall in the next 2 months. This retention wall, and the granting of Land Title, would also be big steps in the approval of construction of our MED Center. Unfortunately, if the retention wall isn’t complete, the offer will be rescinded and the community will be forced to start their Land Title process from scratch, and we will be stepping backward with work on the MED Center as well.

What does starting from scratch really mean? We are not 100% sure but we do know we must push ahead NOW. The Peruvian government can be challenging to gain commitment from for ‘what happens if’ scenarios, however the Union Santa Fe community and MEDLIFE have worked diligently over the years to foster positive interactions and collaboration. Again, our focus is we need to work as hard as possible as the MEDLIFE Movement, to fundraise $30,000 in the next few months to make sure we are doing everything in our power to support Union Santa Fe.

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How You Can Help

While this task may seem daunting, if everyone works together it is certainly attainable. But we need you. We’re calling on each Chapter to fundraise at least $200 or organize a group of 50 students on a Lima Service Learning Trip this Spring in support of our efforts.

Additionally, we encourage you to support our efforts by sharing on social media and asking friends and family to donate. Every contribution helps. Join the MEDLIFE Movement to create a world free from the constraints of poverty - starting with the community of Union Santa Fe!

To donate in support of Union Santa Fe, visit our website donation page.

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