Child Of The Month
By Rich Petersen
Mario de Jesús M. O.
Because this little guy has made such amazing progress in the past three years, we at Programa pro Niños Incapacitados del Lago want to update you on his status and well being. Although from the photo Mario would appear to not be very aware of his surroundings, I can tell you first-hand that at our last members’ meeting in April, he reacted to ambient sounds and stimuli; he laughed and even managed a smile.
I mention all of this to underscore the changes we have seen in Mario in the past three years since he was featured as our “Child of the Month.” Even more heart-warming is the progress since his birth in 2006.
A little history—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 that, Mario was born with hydrocephalus (sometimes referred to as ‘water on the brain’), retinopathy (a potentially blinding eye disorder that primarily affects premature infants weighing two pounds or less), 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 hydrocephalus, 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 so he could come off a 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.
His mother enrolled him at Teletón (Mexico’s very competent therapy clinic), which he attends 3-4 times per week for various therapy modalities. Progress was static for many months, even as Mario continued to grow and react more to his surroundings.
One very important incident has given Mario a new chance. This may sound a bit like a “telenovela” (soap opera), but life takes many turns for most of us. Mario’s birth mother and father separated several years ago, and Mom was left to care for him by herself. In the interim she had another child who fortunately suffers no serious problems, and most of Mom’s attention turned to her. Some time later, Mario’s father began living with a new partner, herself a mother of three, and she has “adopted” Mario as if he were her own child.
The change in Mario since the entrance of his stepmother into his life has been dramatic. She and her own children started interacting with Mario, playing with him, including him in their games and conversations. He has his own play space in the house where he can see and hear everything around him. The stepmother accompanies Mario to his therapy sessions and sees to his every need. The little guy is thriving and doing so much better that we who see him every month are at a loss for words to describe the improvement. Granted, he still has to be cared for 24/7, and will always have to be, but his life is so much happier.
We at Niños Incapacitados have been very gratified to see the progress made by this little guy. If you would like to learn more about what we do and meet one of “our” children in person, please attend our regular monthly meetings at 10:00 on the second Thursday of each month in one of the meeting rooms at the Hotel Real de Chapala. We do not meet June-August as so many of our members are away for the summer. For more information about Niños Incapacitados, see our new and improved website: www.programaninos.com. Thanks to all of you for your continued support.