Patient Story: Marco Receives the Best Birthday Gift

Marco and his parents Maria and Jose Maria after the surgeryMarco and his parents Maria and Jose Maria after his knee surgery. (Photo by Martha Chicaiza)

“How old are you?” I ask Marco, who looks at me with a shy smile. “I’m 6 years old,” he answers me. “And his birthday was on Wednesday,” added his mother, María. Wednesday. The same day that Marco received the operation he was waiting for several months. He could not have received a better gift. 

It’s hard to imagine that over a year ago, Marco could barely walk, let alone play soccer, which is now his favorite game. Marco was diagnosed with dermatophytosis, an infectious skin disease that causes painful pustules on the hands and face.

María, his mother, did not hesitate to take him to the MEDLIFE mobile clinic in her community in Colta, Riobamba, Ecuador, in February 2012. After the clinic, Marco became one of the youngest members to become a part of the Patient Follow Up program, at only four years old. “They [MEDLIFE Staff] called us after the Mobile Clinic, and I began to worry about my son” says María. “Marco, at that time, could not move, and was falling when he walked. He couldn’t do anything,” she remembers.

After taking him to the hospital, and he started receiving the appropriate treatment, everything seemed fine. The pain had subsided and the wounds had decreased considerably. Marco even started going to kindergarten. But an unfortunate accident yielded another painful disease, chondrocalcinosis, a rheumatic disease in the knee that is common on older people, and is really uncommon to see in 5-year-old kid.

It was clear that Marco needed an operation on his knee.

Thanks to the support of Martha Chicaiza, MEDLIFE Director of Latin America and Ecuador, and María Chavez, MEDLIFE Field nurse, were able to go through the complex health care system to achieve the much desired operation, and gave Marco the opportunity to run and play like any child of his age. 

On Wednesday, August 7, 2013, Marcos underwent a successful knee surgery. The same day he turned 6 years old.

“All of them [MEDLIFE Staff] helped me, and never stopped calling. Since that day we met at the mobile clinic, they never stopped worrying about Marco,” says Maria. “We wouldn’t have had the financial means to start the skin treatment for him, not to mention the operation, so thank you so much. Because of MEDLIFE, my son is fine.”

Just like Marco, all MEDLIFE patients who enter the to the Follow Up Program receive comprehensive help both in medical treatments as well as any other aspect necessary to give them a better quality of life.

To learn more about the MEDLIFE Patient Follow Up Program click here.


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.