Meet the Patient: Ángel Zarate

A few months ago, a young mother arrived at a MEDLIFE mobile clinic with her 2 month old son.  He had a cleft lip which he had been struggling with since birth and, upon looking inside his mouth, our doctors observed that he also had a cleft palate.  The young boy’s mother told us that her son, Ángel Zarate had been diagnosed by doctors just a few days after his birth.  The family had been informed that three operations would be needed to treat Ángles condition and the quicker they were done, the more effective they would be.   

Ángel lives in a small community in the hills of Villa Maria del Triunfo, the largest district of Lima’s ‘Pueblos Jovenes’.  The house Ángel shares with his brother and parents is small and does not have access to electricity and running water.  Furthermore, the only access to the house is up a steep slope that is covered in dust and rubble.  This is the path that Ángel’s mother had to climb everyday throughout both her pregnancies.

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Despite living in extreme poverty as so many in Lima’s slums do, Ángel’s parents were determined to be able to get the treatment their son needed.  After Ángel’s birth, the family moved into his grandmother’s house as the cold conditions and difficulties with the hill were too much to contend with for a baby in Ángel’s condition.  Doctors who had been reviewing Ángel’s condition said that it was important for the baby to be kept in a warm and comfortable environment both before and after the operation to give him the optimum opportunity to recover.  They also stressed the importance of Ángel taking the necessary medications recommended after the operation.  The family were told that their health care (SIS) would cover the cost of Ángel’s operations but that these medications would not necessarily be covered by the system.

This is where MEDLIFE came in.  After explaining the situation to us at the mobile clinic, Ángel’s mum signed Ángel on to the MEDLIFE patient follow up list.  The first operation on Ángel’s lip took place just over a week ago on Monday 18th July.  A few days after the operation, one of our nurses went to visit the family to see how the operation had gone.  The change was remarkable, there was hardly any evidence of Ángel’s previous cleft lip apart from a small scar.  Ãngel has been prescribed a cream and some pills to take to help the healing process which MEDLIFE will pay for if it is not covered by the hospital.

Ángel still needs two more operations.  One to fix his cleft palate which will take place in a year and a final one to straighten out his nose when he is seven.  MEDLIFE will continue to visit Ángel and provide him with any financial or medical support the family need.  Ãngel’s mother told us how important it was to her and her family to be receiving this support.  She explained how “even though it’s only a little thing, it is making such a difference in my life and the life of my baby.  It means so much to us to know that people care about our family”. We are looking forward to watching Ángel grow and being able to support him in his development.  


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.