Norma and Michael, both 31, have three children. Their oldest, nine-year-old Johnathon and eight-year-old Brenda, are in fourth and second grade, respectively. Their third child, Alejandro, was born with Trisomy 21, or Down syndrome. Michael struggles to find steady work as a bricklayer. Norma would like to work outside the home, but Alejandro requires constant care and supervision. The family lives with Norma’s elderly parents in the town of Sacaba, a few miles outside of Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Alejandro is seen occasionally by a pediatrician at Cochabamba’s public pediatric hospital associated with the Viedma Hospital complex. Alejandro’s very limited communication skills and overall delayed development contributed to difficulties clinically diagnosing the underlying causes of recurring symptoms, which included frequent fevers and crying fits that suggested some type of discomfort. Around his third birthday, Alejandro’s pediatrician referred him to a cardiologist for specialized evaluation. Employing the advanced diagnostic tools available at the private Belga Hospital, Dr. Gabriel Echazú diagnosed multiple heart defects. Doctors determined that a Glenn surgery could alleviate Alejandro’s worst symptoms.

With support obtained through Puente de Solidaridad, the Cochabamba partner office of Solidarity Bridge, and thanks to funding provided by Dharma Social Programs, Alejandro underwent surgery on August 26, 2017. He was discharged on September 2, and is home and stable. The Puente de Solidaridad social workers remain concerned about the family’s especially precarious social and economic conditions. They will continue to stay in touch with them and channel the family to other supports to help meet the demands of raising a severely disabled child.

Go Back >