A Young Life Transformed Before Our Very Eyes
Just months ago, ten-year-old Oswaldo walked with his head down and was too embarrassed to make eye contact, even with his family. Today he is thriving in school, making friends, and proudly showing his face to all.
Through the generosity of so many who support World Pediatric Project, Oswaldo is one of more than two thousand children who received surgical or diagnostic care this past year. For Oswaldo and his family, it represented a miracle come true, and the fulfillment of a long and challenging journey for care.
Oswaldo was bore in a rural, Mayan region of Guatemala where his mother, like most of the rural population of the country, does not typically consume food rich in folate. This folate deficiency is linked to many congenital conditions such as spina bifida, cleft lip, and cleft palate, and the condition Oswaldo was born with is called a nasal encephalocele. A nasal encephalocele is most often characterized by an opening in the skull near the forehead and nose from which brain matter protrudes. For Oswaldo, this condition was progressively worsening causing frequent severe headaches and vision trouble. The social stigma of his deformity also prevented him from attending school.
For years, Oswaldo’s family sought help to repair Oswaldo’s birth defect and was continually told help didn’t exist in Guatemala. It wasn’t until World Pediatric Project sent a pediatric neurosurgery team to the region that they finally had home for him.
Although Dr. John Ward, pediatric neurosurgeon at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, had travelled to Guatemala for more than ten years, a recent World Pediatric Project surgery mission took him to different region where he first met Oswaldo. Dr. Ward evaluated him and immediately recommended he travel to the U.S. for this complex surgery.
Plans to help Oswaldo moved forward quickly. Thanks to the combined volunteer efforts of Dr. Gary Tye, pediatric neurosurgeon at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, and Dr. Jennifer Rhodes, pediatric plastic surgeon and director of VCU Center for Craniofacial Care at Children's Hospital, Oswaldo’s condition was successfully corrected through a ten-hour complex procedure. Oswaldo demonstrated his recovery in the most remarkable of ways – by reading one book after another!
His brother Fernando remarks, “ Oswaldo is so smart but couldn’t attend school for fear of being teased.” Instead to pass the time and continue to learn, he read as much as he could until severe headaches overcame him.
Today Oswaldo thrives. His brother recently revealed Oswaldo is not only in school for the first time in his life, but is rapidly becoming the best student in class! Because he loves to read and learn, he now hopes to become a teacher when he grows up.