José Edgar Valencia

José Edgar, age 6, is the younger of two sons of José Luis Valencia and María Camacho. The family of four shares a bedroom in the home of the children’s maternal grandparents. The home, which has electricity but no water, drainage or sewer services, is part of a low-income settlement known as Urbanización las Delicias on the outskirts of Cochabamba. José Luis is a bricklayer by trade and works odd construction jobs, with no insurance or other benefits. Of the roughly $200 dollars José Luis earns each month, about $140 is spent on food, with the remainder stretched to cover school fees, doctor visits, and to pay water delivery trucks to fill the improvised cistern for the family’s use.

Since a very young age, José Edgar suffered from chronic fatigue, headaches, shortness of breath, and sleep apnea. The most difficult part for him was the fact that he couldn’t participate in any exercises or games during physical education class at school or play outside with his friends. His most fervent wish was to run and be like the other boys in his neighborhood.

María and José Luis took José Edgar to the public Viedma Children’s Hospital to be evaluated by Dr. Gabriel Echazú, who in turn referred him for cardiac evaluation. Given the limited cardiac facilities in the public hospital, Dr. Carlos Brockmann at the private Clínica Belga agreed to see him. José Edgar was diagnosed with coartation of the aorta, a narrowing of part of the aorta (the major artery leading out of the heart). This narrowing forces the left heart ventricle to work harder, generating much higher pressure than normal to deliver blood to the lower half of the body. As often occurs with this type of congenital defect, it was accompanied by others including patent ductus arteriosus (failure of the fetal blood vessel known as the ductus arteriosus to close after birth), and general enlargement of the heart, as well as signs of pulmonary hypertension.

José Edgar needed open heart surgery, at a cost the family could not even imagine paying. Nevertheless, the grandparents vowed to help and José Luis turned to other family members in a desperate attempt to borrow the funds. In their search for help, they were referred to Solidarity Bridge’s local office in Cochabamba, prompting our social worker to visit the family home to verify their economic situation. María described the family’s struggle:

My husband and I want the best for our sons. He sacrifices himself to work to make sure we have everything we need, but we spend all his income and there is nothing left for savings. We have tried to get a loan from the bank, but they ask for pay stubs and other documents we don’t have.

José Edgar received his surgery on May 10th, 2013, at the prestigious Clínica Belga. He was discharged six days later in good condition, and continues on the mend. The family is grateful for the support received to save their son’s life and give the entire family new hope for the future. This surgery was made possible through the financial support of Dharma Trading Co.

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