Meet The Patient: Melissa Díaz

melissa-dias1Last week we joined Janet Reynoso, MEDLIFE Community Coordinator, on some visits to potential new MEDLIFE patients. Janet has been working closely with MEDLIFE for the past two years as a Community Coordinator. She is well known around the area and within MEDLIFE as you really cannot miss her! She is never seen without her microphone. Janet uses the microphone while walking around neighbourhoods, to attract as much attention as possible, informing everyone about MEDLIFE and encourages them to visit a mobile clinic.

Janet is incredibly dedicated to improving the lives of those in her community. When the mobile clinics are not running she continues to work hard to find those who are most in need of help and support. She explains to us that the most extreme cases of poverty are found at the tops of the hills, where the residents have to navigate impossible hillsides and will be living without running water and often no electricity. However, that is not to say that the residents lower down the hillside, who may have slightly more desirable living situations, do not also need help.

That is the case for Melissa Díaz. She lives with nine other family members in a bigger than your average home at the bottom of the hillside. Janet tells us that although others may be envious of their lifestyle, Melissa and her family are in desperate need of MEDLIFE’s support. Melissa is 15 years old and has Scoliosis; a medical condition that means ones spine is curved into the shape of an S. She is in constant pain and not able to do many activities other than go to school, and even that is sometimes too much. Sitting at her desk all day is extremely uncomfortable for her. Within the hour we were at her home she stayed very quite, letting her grandma do all the talking. Although Melissa had an operation scheduled last year, the recent doctor’s strikes have meant she has had to reschedule it a number of times and still continues to wait.

After meeting Melissa for the first time and assessing the family’s socioeconomic position, MEDLIFE have created a plan to do all they can to help the situation. The first step is of course to ensure the operation date is set. The most efficient way of doing this is to use MEDLIFE connections to find a doctor and specialist who can take on the case, which our coordinators are currently working on. The insurance Melissa has will help cover the cost of the operation, however that will not include the cost of the post operation rehabilitation necessary for Melissa to make a full recovery. Therefore, once the operation has happened, MEDLIFE will cover the cost for the rehabilitation, as well as accompanying Melissa to the appointments to ensure the care she is getting is the best.

Though there is still progress to be made, there is now hope for Melissa and her family that in the near future she can live a more carefree and confortable life. 


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.