Patient Update: Luis Angel Tuso


Luis Angel Tuso is an eleven-year old who enjoys art class and dreams of becoming a police officer when he grows up. When he began complaining last year of intense headaches and vomiting, his parents knew something was wrong. But with four children living in the sandy desert settlement of Oasis in Villa El Salvador, they had few economic resources for medical treatment.

They took Luis to the Hospital Maria Auxiliadora, which accepts SIS, the government health insurance program that covers families living in extreme poverty. There an MRI revealed a diagnosis of hypertensive obstructive hydrocephalus, an accumulation of fluid in the brain, caused by a tumor blocking the flow of cerebrospinal fluid through the brain.

He received surgical intervention that same day, and a shunt was placed in his brain to drain excess fluid and relieve the pressure on his brain tissue. Luis recovered smoothly from that procedure, but the underlying problem- the brain tumor- required a more complicated treatment. Because of the tumor’s proximity to important brain structures, doctors said, it would require stereotactic radiosurgery, a noninvasive procedure that involves high doses of radiation targeted to precise points with the end goal of reducing the size of the tumor. But the expensive and high-tech procedure was not available in Maria Auxiliadora; in fact, just 3 hospitals in Lima are equipped to perform it. The procedure would cost 18,000 soles, or about $7,200, an amount that the family could not afford. Luis’s father went to each hospital but none of them would accept his insurance. He began the process of appealing their decision, assembling the paperwork and references to prove that the family truly needed assistance. They held a pollada in their neighborhood, selling chicken in order to raise money for the medical costs, but still didn’t come close to the amount they needed.

At this point, Luis’s father got in touch with MEDLIFE, who he knew of from the Mobile Clinics that had recently been carried out in their community, and asked for help. Meri Lecaros, MEDLIFE’s Patient Follow-up Coordinator, set her sights on the Clinica San Pablo, she says, because it’s known to be the most advanced in procedures like this one. “They told me they ‘almost never’ want to accept people with SIS, since they are private,” said Meri. “But we searched for the connections needed to give the family a boost in the process they were already working on.”

Meri decided to use her contacts in the Ministry of Health, where she previously worked as a health promoter. She got in touch with the directors of the network of hospitals in southern Lima, and says “They gave me hope, making calls and coordinating to gather the necessary documents.” 

That speeded up the process, and last Saturday, Meri accompanied Luis and his father to the Clinica San Pablo, where they performed another MRI exam. Luis was nervous, but Meri reports, the doctors were patient with him and able to complete the exam. The doctors will now meet in order to determine the best course of treatment for Luis. The recommended treatment requires seven sessions over the course of weeks, all of which will be covered by SIS. 

His parents say the unexpected turn of events has been “a blessing from God.” Meri says that Luis’s story is a success for not only his family, but for others who may benefit in the future from the connection made with a clinic that would ordinarily be inaccessible to low-income patients. “There are many rights available to people through the system, but they just aren’t publicized,” Meri says. “You have to fight for them.”


Hear it From MEDLIFErs

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Reya Seby
Western University

This trip motivated me more to pursue a career in the healthcare field so that I can use my resources to help those who need it the most, similar to MEDLIFE’s mission.

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Victoria DiCanio
University of Connecticut

It was most enjoyable to finish the hard work and see how big a difference a group of individuals can make. It was such an amazing experience.

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Anita Woo
University of Toronto

I enjoyed the mobile clinics the most, especially the dental and triage portions. I would definitely recommend a MEDLIFE trip, it was a great experience.

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David Saff
Maclay High School

The most enjoyable part of my trip was hanging out with the amazing group of kids I was with. I would highly recommend a MEDLIFE volunteer trip to others.

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Sydney Sansone
Nova Southeastern University

This trip made everything that I was learning in my public health courses come to life and immersed me in a new culture while also learning about medicine.

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Abygail Youmans
College of Charleston

Being involved with MEDLIFE is not like joining another club - its bigger than that. It is about joining a movement that seeks to help change people’s quality of life for forever.

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Emi Hofmann
University of Central Florida

Not only was I able to participate in a week long Mobile Clinic, shadowing doctors of all types of specialties including pharmacy, dentistry, gynecology, and more, but I was also able to learn about the culture and visit incredible places.

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Julian Takagi-Stewart
University of Toronto

One thing that I really loved about this trip was that MEDLIFE made sure that the volunteers got an understanding of the complexity of issues that lead to underprivileged people in communities outside of the main city

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Hannah Van Hofwegen
University of Ottawa

Whether it was basketball with the local kids, assisting the doctors, talking with families, building washrooms, holding babies, or spending time with the people who were on the SLT with me, this was an amazing opportunity that I would do over and over again.

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Isabelle Holt
Cornell University

I loved learning about the patients MEDLIFE has followed and how they offer real help to people with chronic/urgent conditions. It is amazing how the organization formed real connections with the communities.

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Valerie Lindeborg

Our family had the privilege of participating in multiple trips with Nick [founder] and his amazing staff. Their expertise made the trips unforgettable while instilling in my boys the fundamentals of good character: selflessness, compassion, and empathy.

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Harry Vildibill
University of Georgia

As an aspiring physician, MEDLIFE motivated me to further continue my goal of becoming a doctor. In fact, I enjoyed the Tanzania Service Learning Trip so much that I decided to go on another trip to Cusco, Peru.