When Derik and his family knocked on the door of the Puente de Solidaridad Foundation in Cochabamba, Bolivia, Derik was 18 months old but had yet to take his first step or attempt his first word, and his parents were worried. They knew why Derik was not thriving like his older brother at that age, but they felt powerless to fix it.
When he can get work, Felix is a truck driver. The couple supplements their income by selling some of the potatoes and squash they grow on their small plot. But despite their best efforts to scrimp and save, a year after the diagnosis they still didn’t have even a fraction of the money needed to pay for surgery. In the meantime, they carefully nursed Derik through persistent respiratory illnesses and hoped time wasn’t running out. As Jhanett explained to the social worker:
We have only saved up a little bit but not enough. We’ll never be able to collect all the money needed. Please help us, we don’t want to lose our tiny son.
On March 6th, 2014, Dr. Carlos Brockmann performed the surgery to close the large shunt between Derik’s heart ventricles. Derik was released from the hospital on March 15th, and is recovering well. The surgery should correct the significant respiratory problems Derik suffered, and therefore allow him to gain strength and work up to the normal activity level of any healthy toddler.
In addition to the skilled hands of Dr. Brockmann, it took many people near and far to make it possible for little Derik to receive his surgery. That includes Dharma Trading Co., which helps finance this and the many other children’s heart surgery patients treated through Solidarity Bridge and its local office, Puente de Solidaridad. Jhanett and Felix and all of those who love Derik are especially grateful to the staff and customers of Dharma, whose hard work and loyal patronage have helped give new life to this sweet little boy.