How Many People Does It Take To Give A Young Boy A New Leg?
by Dr. Steve Mora
This is a real life story.
There was a group of folks in Arequipa Peru who wanted to help their 17 year old boy get a prosthetic leg. The boy’s name was Jose Hugo.
One year prior Jose had had an amputation of his left leg above the knee for the treatment of Osteosarcoma cancer. He had been given 6 months to live. His amputation and subsequent treatment was successful. One year later he was healthy and free of cancer but could not walk because of his amputated leg. In his part of Peru, getting a prosthesis with his means was virtually impossible. In an act of desperation the family sent an email to folks they knew in the medical field. They sent it to one person who sent it to another and then to another and another. Eventually it reached my friend and mentor Ralph Kuon MD who sent it to me. He said, ” Steven any ideas?”
Upon reading the email in January of this year I thought there was no possible way that I could help this boy. It just didn’t seem likely that I’d be able to coordinate the measuring, building, and shipping (to a remote area) a custom made prosthetic leg. I don’t know why I thought it was a hopeless situation but I did. A couple of months later I received another email once again asking for help. One day sometime in April after my birthday it came to me. I thought, “why would this not be possible”. Why not give this project a fighting chance? At that time I was feeling very positive about my personal blessings including my health, family and friends. I also feel that God had said to me “Steve you can do this; be of service to those people in need”. Perhaps helping Jose Hugo was not so impossible. I started making some calls and sending emails to see if I could get some help with the prosthesis. Chad Marquis from Scope Orthotics in Orange replied one day. He said, “no prob, I can build it”.
I could not believe what he just said. I quickly emailed the news to Jose Hugo’s family. They knew their prayers had been answered and so did I. Chad and I did some coordinating with Jose Hugo’s contacts. We received pictures of the measurements Chad had requested being taken. Chad went to work in May. I picked up the leg on July 2, 2013. I left for Peru July 3. I handed off the leg in Lima to Jose Hugo’s priest, Father Marcio on July 4.
He packed it and shipped it to Arequipa, Peru. Jose received HIS leg 5 days later. The pic below shows the leg being brought to his house. Look around at the environment. It is an extremely modest home.
Just before he put on his new prosthetic leg he called me. I was on my medical mission in Huancavelica, Peru, far away from Arequipa. He sounded so joyous, appreciative and thankful. I was so happy that finally for the first time ever I had made contact with Jose Hugo the boy from Arequipa. He and his family sounded like good respectful people. He said he would put on his prosthetic leg as soon as I got off the phone.
I have to admit after I spoke to him I was overflowing with happiness. I knew we had done it. I became a bit choked up. I had to step aside from seeing patients for a few minutes. I was happy for Jose Hugo and his family. I know that we made his life a little more manageable. I know that having a prosthesis will decrease the chance of him being focused on as a cripple or ostracized by society. Perhaps we improved the chance of him pursuing whatever dream he may have had before getting his leg amputated. The pictures below tell the rest of the story. The last pic of Jose, family and friends says it all.
On August 16, 2013, approximately 6 weeks after my mission, I received notice that Jose Hugo was crutch free.
SO……How Many People Does It Take To Give A Young Peruvian Boy A New Leg?
Alfonso Aguera Moran
Maria del Pilar
Ralph Kuon MD
Chad Marquis Orthotist
And most importantly a semi-helpful Peruvian Customs agent
= a village
….IT TAKES A VILLAGE…..
I wrote this story the day after arriving from my 2013 medical mission to Huancavelica Peru.
To participate in a medical mission to Peru please visit the PAMS webpage: www.huancavelicapams.weebly.com
Steve A. Mora, MD
Orange County CA Orthopaedic Surgeon specializing in Sports Medicine, Knee, Shoulder, and Elbow surgery