Child of the Month
By Rich Petersen
Alexa Cárdenas Reyes
This beautiful one-year old little girl is Alexa Cárdenas Reyes. Alexa is the first born (and only) child of Alexandra y Carlos who live in Chapala. You can see in the photo that Alexa’s right eye seems to be missing. Actually, she was born with a perforation in the cornea of her right eye rendering her blind in that eye.
Fortunately Alexa’s parents were able to seek treatment with a corneal specialist in Guadalajara, the result being that Alexa is being prepared to have an ocular prosthesis placed. By “being prepared,” I mean she is seeing a transplant specialist who is monitoring Alexa’s progress, and when she has grown a bit more, the specialist will fit her with the prosthesis.
While the incidence of corneal perforation “in utero” is relatively low, we at Niños Incapacitados at the present time have four infants with this disability. The cause of these perforations is generally thought to be an infectious process---either bacterial, viral or fungal—and cannot be attributed to anything the mother did or did not do during pregnancy.
It is urgent, however, that the child’s ocular orbit (eye socket) be reconstructed with a prosthesis as soon as possible so the child’s head and face can develop normally and not have a “lopsided” look. At present Alexa is being fitted with a “spacer” to maintain the eye socket open; this spacer will be changed several times as Alexa grows and eventually she will have a permanent prosthesis, painted and colored to match her left eye.
Of course, she will not be able to see out of the right eye. But you should see this little bundle of energy and how she relates to “her” world already. Notice the great smile she gave all of us at our last meeting.
You may be wondering about the cost of this procedure: even with help from the specialist surgeon in the form of a discount to us as an organization, the total cost will be 23,000 pesos. This includes two new prostheses as Alexa grows plus all the follow-up appointments. As is our custom when such a large expense comes to the fore, we ask the parents to contribute at least one-third if they can. Alexandra and Carlos to date have raised 7.000 pesos, the proceeds of several garage sales and food fairs held in their neighborhood. Friends and family have also contributed.
We at Niños Incapacitados have already decided to have Alexa and her parents return to one of our monthly meetings as soon as the final prosthesis has been fitted, and we will update you (with a photo of course) at that time.
If you would like to find out more about our group and the work we do, please attend our regular members’ meetings on the second Thursday of each month at 10:00 a.m. at the Hotel Real de Chapala in La Floresta. You will also have the opportunity to meet one of the children we are helping. Thanks to everyone for your continued support. And a special thank-you to all who attended our Gala Dinner/Dance “All Aboard the Orient Express” on March 14. The evening was a rousing success and raised much-needed funds to help children like Alexa.