A Breath of Fresh Air for Eduardo


A few months ago, MEDLIFE intern Nandini Razdan wrote here about her experience visiting a follow-up patient in Villa El Salvador named Eduardo Espinoza. Due to brain damage caused by choking on candy as a baby, Eduardo, now 24, has lived almost his entire life in a near-vegetative state, unable to move or speak.

Though there is no cure for Eduardo’s condition, the MEDLIFE follow-up team has been helping him and his mother for the last two years, providing supplies like diapers, medication, and even a bed, and taking him to doctors’ visits. Medical Director Dr. Jose says it’s a “miracle” that Eduardo has survived this long, and mostly thanks to the constant dedication of his mother, Leonarda. “Medically, it’s inexplicable,” he says. “But we’ve seen that he sometimes laughs or cries, and he’s responsive to us and to his mother.” After the recent death of her husband, Leonarda is doing double duty as both breadwinner and caretaker for her son.

In April, Nandini went with MEDLIFE field nurse Ruth to visit Eduardo and his mother in their home, and accompanied them to the emergency room because Eduardo was having trouble breathing. The humid winter air put him in danger of having his lungs fill with fluid, and one had already collapsed. About once or twice a month, they helped transport Eduardo to the hospital for a simple nebulizer treatment that would save him from choking to death.

When Nandini went that day with Ruth, she says it was a struggle to transport him to the hospital in his rickety wheelchair. “Eduardo left a huge impression on me, and I didn’t want to forget about him after my internship. He still needed help,” she says. So after she returned to the US, she told Dr. Jose she wanted to help him get a wheelchair. “He told me that what Eduardo really needed was a breathing machine,” she says. So she created a campaign on the MEDLIFE website, contacted friends and family and posted on Facebook to ask for donations to buy the equipment.

In less than 24 hours, Nandini raised $325, surpassing her original fundraising goal of $300 and enough to buy the machine, an extra oxygen tank, and a dehumidifier for Eduardo.

Today, we went to visit Eduardo and his mother again, this time with the brand new gifts in tow. Dr. Jose and Ruth helped Leonarda set up the machine to use for the first time; from now on, if Eduardo has trouble breathing, his mother can hook up the machine to his oxygen mask for just ten minutes. The dehumidifier in his room should help Eduardo breathe better in the future.

Leonarda was delighted and grateful to hear that the new equipment was from Nandini and her friends in the US. “Thank you so much, from me and from Eduardo,” she said. “People may think he doesn’t understand, but I know he does.”

To create a fundraising campaign and help patients like Eduardo, click here. Or donate to the MEDLIFE fund.


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.