Nestor Castro is the second child of Juana Vargas and José Luis Castro. Juana lives with her children and a niece in her care in a one-room brick home they rent outside of Quillacollo, Bolivia, while José Luis travels to various locations to work in construction projects and send money back to his family. Juana walks with some difficulty due to a congenital hip displacement that was never corrected, but she does her best to not let her disability slow her down. She is known for her commitment to her community and her family, as evidenced by her determination to bring her niece to live with her in order to provide her with better schooling opportunities.
Nestor was born a year and a half ago with a perimembranous ventricular septal defect (VSD), which is the most common congenital cardiac anomaly. While some VSD cases resolve on their own, those infants with large VSD and accompanying pulmonary hypertension, as in Nestor’s case, need surgical correction. Nestor’s condition had left him so weak and underweight that his doctors decided to admit him for two months to the Nutritional Center of the Albina Patiño Hospital to ensure he was strong enough for surgery.
In her search for help for her child, Juana was referred to the social services agency of the local Archdiocese, which in turn referred her to the Cochabamba office of Puente de Solidaridad (Solidarity Bridge). There she explained her situation to the PuenteSol social worker:
We are poor. My baby’s father barely earns enough for us to eat, and that is why we went a long time without seeing a doctor, because they told us this surgery is very expensive. When he became very ill I took him to the hospital and they sent me to [the Archdiocese] and they helped me admit him to the Nutritional Center … I have put my child’s life in God’s hands and I think He has heard my pleas because now I am hopeful to get him the surgery. That is why I ask you to help me so that my Nestor does not die and can live. I want to see him running around like his sister.
Nestor is currently recovering from his surgery which took place on May 21, 2012, at the Belga Clinic in Cochabamba, and involved a catheterization technique and the use of a heart-lung machine. This surgery was made possible through the financial support of Dharma Trading Co.