83-year-old Vitalino and his wife lived in a little house high up on the side of the ravine in La Limonada. Three years ago, they not only lost their house to the rain, but each also fell, leaving them bedridden. Because they have no family, their neighbor, Cindy, took them both in and cared for them. Vitalino’s wife passed away last May.
Vitalino has suffered a great deal of pain over these past years. He broke his collarbone and his leg in the fall, the latter of which needed surgery. Screws and nails were put into his knee as part of the operation. When I met Vitalino last spring, his knee was infected and very painful. We had been told that the local public hospitals would not receive him or treat him because he was just too old. A doctor volunteered to come see him, and we were able to start giving him medicine to treat both the pain and the infection.
By the end of August, the screws that had been part of the first operation actually started poking out through his skin. We were able to take Vitalino to the public hospital where they operated on him again, and placed his entire leg in a cast. After the operation, we began to see more life in Vitalino’s eyes, and in his smile. Unfortunately, due to poor medical care at the public hospital, they set his leg twisted in the cast.
Bed sores have begun to set in, although after 3 years in bed, it’s a miracle he hasn’t suffered from them before. Vitalino was still in pain in his leg, and still had the cast on. Cindy, the woman caring for him, gave birth to her 4th child on the day he was supposed to get the cast off, so that never happened. Unfortunately, she is the only one who can get an appointment for him at the public hospital, but she is still recovering and unable to do so now. When she finally would be able to go, the date for the appointment date was going to be about a month from now. We decided he couldn’t wait that long for him to see a doctor.
With the help of a visiting group, Vitalino was carried out of La Limonada and taken in Tita’s van to the private hospital (where he would have much better medical care) on Saturday. There we learned that the doctor in the public hospital never took out the screws and nails that were bothering him last summer. They only cut the parts that were sticking out of his knee. We also learned that his leg would never actually heal the way it was set.
The doctors determined that Vitalino needs a prostetic to help hold his leg together in order for it to heal properly. The prostetic alone will cost 10,000 Quetzales, and in all the operation and his stay at the hospital will cost about 35,000 Q (or $4,500). We expect Vitalino to be ready to leave the hospital Tuesday, and we will need to pay for the operation at that time, or he will not be released from the hospital. Every extra day that he is in the hospital will increase the amount we need to pay.
Lemonade International Team Member
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