2014 Borderless Giving Child
Leslie Vital is seven years old. She lives in Juarez, Mexico with her parents and her two brothers. Her father works in construction as a bricklayer. Her mother is a housewife. Leslie was born with a right club foot. “When she was eight months old I noticed she wanted to start walking but she had a limp,” said Leslie’s Mother, Maria Rodriguez.
Maria’s first reaction was to take Leslie to the community hospital in Juarez. The doctors in that hospital gave her very little hope. “They told me that my daughter was never going to walk. They said she was always going to need to hold on to somebody or something for her to stand up,” Rodriguez said.
Maria found a place in Juarez called Villa Integra where Leslie could receive physical therapy. Thanks to this therapy, Leslie started to walk at age 2. But, because her right foot was in an inward position, Leslie would constantly trip. “I fell every time I tried to walk; I would always have bruises and scrapes on my body,” said Leslie while she was sitting on a sofa bed in the living room of her house. The Vital family lives in an 800 square foot house that her father made with spare material from the construction sites where he works. The floors of her house are cement. There is cardboard instead of glass in the windows and the street where she lives is made of dirt. The uneven dirt road makes it harder for Leslie to walk outside of her house or to go to school.
After five years of receiving physical therapy, Leslie’s doctors recommended surgery. “The doctors told me that physical therapy is not going to help my daughter anymore. She needs surgery to correct her condition. The hospital told us to come back in two years because she was too young,” said Maria Rodriguez while she was looking at her daughter’s foot.
Her condition started to affect her grades in school. Leslie didn’t want to attend class anymore because her classmates made fun of her condition. “Some of her classmates would ask her questions about her foot and some of them would tease her. She felt very uncomfortable and didn’t want to go to school anymore. There is a psychologist that is helping her to understand her disability and to not listen to people who make fun of her,” said Maria.That’s when they heard about the Borderless Giving Campaign, a designated fund of UMC Foundation and their sister organization, Fundación UMC de Mexico that provides life-changing orthopedic surgeries by board certified orthopedic pediatric specialists in state of the art facilities at El Paso Children’s Hospital to kids of Mexican citizenship.
“Villa Integra knew about the socio-economic conditions of the Vital family and contacted The Borderless Giving Campaign,” said Margarita Enriquez, program Administrator of the Borderless Giving Campaign. “Leslie complied with all the prerequisites needed to be considered as a candidate for surgery. After analyzing her condition, we presented the case to our pediatric specialists at El Paso Children’s Hospital and she was approved for surgery.”
The day that the Vital Family was informed that Leslie was approved for surgery, the whole family cried. “We don’t have the resources, we didn’t have any support,” Maria paused and started to cry. “It was because of Borderless Giving that my daughter will have surgery and she will have a better life.”
Dr. Shaun Machen, a Pediatric Orthopedic Specialist at El Paso Children’s Hospital explained the procedure he would perform on Leslie. “Today we will do a couple of tendon releases, as well as transfer one of the tendons to the outside of the foot, to allow that tendon to bring the foot up in a more normal direction and flatten out the arch of the foot, afterwards we will cast the leg to allow the soft tissues to heal.”
On Friday, April 4, just one day after her surgery, Leslie turned 8 years old. Staff from UMC Foundation and El Paso Children’s Hospital celebrated her birthday in the hospital. They brought her a birthday cake and presents and sang happy birthday in her room.Seven weeks after her surgery, Leslie didn’t need a cast any more. With the help of an ankle brace, provided by Custom Orthotics and Prosthesis, LP. Leslie is now able to walk straight without tripping. She stands straight and she even wants to go back to school. “At first I thought this is too good to be true but now that I have seen my daughter walking straight I can say that this Foundation is real. The surgeries are real. There are lots of kids who don’t have the resources but need the help. Thank you for changing my daughter’s life.”Surgeries like the one provided to Leslie are made possible through donor support. UMC Foundation would like to recognize the anonymous donor who made this life-changing surgery possible that improved Leslie’s quality of life and her chances for the future.