Child of the Month
By Rich Petersen
Mario de Jesús Montes Oliveros

     The sleepy little boy in his mother’s arms is Mario de Jesús Montes Oliveros, who is now 15 months old. It is beyond fortunate and bordering on the miraculous that Mario has survived to this point and we can bring you his story.
     Little Mario was born at 25 weeks gestation (5-1/2 months) and weighed less than one kilo at birth.   In addition to such a premature entrance to the world and the problems accompanying it, Mario was born with hydrocephaly (sometimes referred to ‘water on the brain’), retinopathy (a potentially blinding eye disorder that primarily affects premature infants weighing two pounds or less. The disorder usually develops in both eyes and is one of the most common causes of visual loss in childhood and can lead to lifelong vision impairment and blindness), pulmonary distress, and as if these weren’t enough, his right leg was malformed and the doctors thought they might have to amputate the limb. 
     For the hydrocephaly, Mario underwent surgery to place a drainage valve in his head, a common procedure that fortunately was successful in this case. He spent over three months in the Hospital Civil in Guadalajara recovering from this surgery and allowing his immature lungs to develop and come off the respirator. He was at home for a month and then had to undergo two surgeries on his right eye to repair the damage to his retina caused by the retinopathy. Fortunately the malformed leg healed and amputation was not necessary.
     When his mother Carmen brought Mario to the Niños Incapacitados intake session over seven months ago, he could not hold his head up, was very pale and listless, and did not seem to react to his surroundings. He had also developed an allergy to regular milk and was not eating well or gaining weight. With excellent care by his doctors, as well as his mother’s love and attention, Mario is doing very well at present. He still has the drainage valve and has to wear eyeglasses to assist his vision, but with physical and stimulation therapy, as well as a milk substitute, he is growing and developing at a rapid pace. At 15 months of age, he is at about the level of a seven-month old baby but still can’t crawl or sit up; however, his mother tells us he is attempting to sit up and he can now hold his head straight for some time.   He will now react to voices and movement and has a great smile. Just prior to posing for the above photo, Mario blew a few bubbles and then giggled.
     Unfortunately, Mario’s father left the family just after his birth and is not present in the home. He does, however, contribute a bit of money each month (500 pesos) for support.  There is one older sister who is four years old and in pre-school. Of course Carmen has to stay home caring for the two children, especially Mario, so cannot work at this time. She is an excellent caregiver and very grateful to Niños Incapacitados for the help we have been able to provide.
     —Niños Incapacitados needs help from some caring individuals in our community who would like to “sponsor” or “adopt” a child with ongoing medication requirements, especially some of our children with diabetes and others with seizure disorders whose medicines cost more and more every month. Since its beginning Niños Incapacitados has cared for children from birth to age 17, and some of our children are now approaching this cut-off age. You could make a big difference in a child’s future by helping to offset some of these medication costs.
     For more information, please see our web site:  www.programaninos.org or write to us at ppni.ac@gmail.com.