Reyna Maria Jimenez
Reyna Maria Jimenez is a 12 year old girl who had rheumatic fever when she was six. This caused very serious problems to her heart. She is unable to participate in the things that are common to her age, such as running and being able to study. She shared with us, in tears, "I so want to be well and things be like before I became sick. I want to once more run and play with my friends. I love to be active and want to become a lawyer when I grow up." Unfortunately, Reyna will die before her 18th birthday without open heart surgery that replaces two valves of her heart.
Reyna was born in La Paz and lives in a small town called Coroico in the tropical highlands of Bolivia. Our missioner, Dr. Nancy Streittmatter treated Reyna on our last mission to Coroico. Reyna is cared for by her single mother (the father left them) who works as a rural school teacher. Her mother earns 800 Bolivianos a month (about $100). From this she helps Reyna's brother (23 years old) who has rheumatic arthritis with medications. This leaves her a bit more than half her salary, or about $50 a month for food, rent and everything else.
Because we have wonderful and excellent collaborating physicians who will work pro bono in Bolivia and a hospital willing to cut their costs to a minimum, we will be able to do Reyna's operation for $4400. An open heart surgery requiring two valves in the U.S. would cost from $100,000 to $200,000.