Soon after Hugo Guashpa was born, his parents noticed there was something wrong with him. His first words didn´t come at the same time as their other eight kids. He started walking late. He had trouble with physical activity. His behavior was strange, not what they expected from children after raising so many.
They took Hugo to the nearby public hospital. The doctors diagnosed him with down-syndrome. Hugo can´t go to the local school because of his downsyndrome- the local school lacks the specialized resources to help him. His parents must care for him all day while he stays home. At the age of 8, all he can do by himself is eat and play. While he has trouble making friends with other kids, he still can play with his many siblings.
The down-syndrome diagnosis explained Hugo´s stunted mental development, but something still seemed amiss to his parents. He would quickly grow exhausted when playing with his siblings, dancing and running around the families small house and neighborhood.
Though these activities seemed to make him happy, he could not continue them for very long. So they took him to the doctor again for a physical. The doctors said his heart was fine, he was physically normal. But his parents still felt something was wrong.
When MEDLIFE had a clinic in March of 2015 in the rural community of Laime San Carlos where the Guashpa family lives, they jumped at the chance to take Hugo to a different doctor. MEDLIFE clinic doctors detected a heart murmur, and sent him to get a cardiogram at a private hospital. They then discovered that Hugo had pulmonery artesia, a rare birth defect where the valve seperating the right ventricle from the main pulmonary artery doesn´t form at all, so blood cannot get directly from the right ventricle to the lungs. Children with this condition do not have enough oxygen in their blood as a result, and suffer from shortness of breath and extreme sleepiness initially. However, if left untreated the doctor said this condition could kill Hugo within a year.
According to the World Health Organization three quarters of the world´s deaths from cardiovascular disease occur in low and middle income countries like Ecuador where people often do not have adequate health care for the early detection and expensive treatment required to prevent such deaths. The out of pocket expenses such treatments require are often catastrophic to families living in poverty.
Hugo´s parents were born and raised in farming families, and they continue to support their own families through farming, guinea-pigs, pigs, rabbits, cows, the typical livestock of Andean farming communities. They are poor, and they came from poor families from Laime San Carlos. Their grown children are supporting their families through farming as well. There was no way they could afford to pay for the specialized treatment Hugo required.
The waitlist in the public healthcare system was so long, 6 months to a year, that Hugo would likely die waiting for his operation. MEDLIFE decided to pay for his operation through a private hospital to ensure Hugo´s survival. MEDLIFE is starting a fundraising campaign to pay for this necesarry and expensive surgery. Please help us give Hugo a future and donate!
In order to recover from such a drastic operation, Hugo needed to get his numerous dental infections taken care of. The infections could spread while Hugo is recovering from his operation. MEDLIFE has taken him to a dentist, where he received treatment and had his badly infected teeth pulled.
After the operation, Hugo´s family will have avoided a tradgedy. Hugo should be able to enjoy a long and physically normal life. He should even be able to keep up with his siblings. MEDLIFE will continue to support families like Hugo´s who are buredened with illnesses with a cost of care far greater than they could afford to pay.