Martín Goes Home
Going home may be just a trivial fact for many of us, especially if we enjoy good health. In some cases, going home is a big deal –like when we leave the hospital after a few days stay, or when we return from a long trip. Yet, in rare occasions, going home is nothing short of a miracle made possible by God’s grace, generosity and caring hearts. This is the story of one of those rare occasions.
We first knew about Martín Gómez Hernández during a visit to the Hospital De Las Culturas in San Cristóbal De Las Casas, in the southernmost state of Chiapas, México. It was during our 10th MDP trip to Chiapas, on the evening of November 9, 2017, when Cáritas workers, Norma Medina and Elizabeth Meza, invited me to visit the Hospital De Las Culturas --probably one of the poorest hospitals in the state, and the only resource for those who have literally nothing. Overwhelmed by the saddest scene I’ve ever witnessed, right outside the ER, we proceeded to the Children’s wing of the hospital.
Elizabeth visits the Hospital De Las Culturas daily and actively helps patients and their families to obtain drugs, tests, etc. That evening we visited two children; one of them was Martín. He was 13, and had been hospitalized there for a little over 7 months due to Miliary Tuberculosis, bronchopleural fistula, and chronic malnutrition. Martín had suffered from TB since age 12. I could hardly believe that the kid lying in bed with an oxygen mask was 13 years old! He seemed much younger, was extremely thin and looked very tired. Yet, he greeted us with a faint smile and an intelligent spark in his eyes.
Martín was born in the village of Pantelhó, Chiapas, about a 2-hour drive north of San Cristóbal. The third oldest of six children, Martín’s two older sisters work to help support the family since their dad passed away several years ago. His mom stays home to care for Martín and the little ones. Asked about his personality, Elizabeth described him as a bright, determined and very brave kid.
In mid December 2017, Martín was transferred to the Instituto Nacional de Enfermedades Respiratorias (a high level facility specialized in respiratory diseases) in Mexico City for further evaluation and to decide whether he could undergo surgery. Unfortunately, his condition was deemed too complex and surgery would be too risky. He was sent back the hospital in San Cristóbal. It was determined that although his condition was chronic, he was stable enough to go home provided he had an oxygen concentrator. Elizabeth and Norma reached out to MDP in early January 2018 with a plea for help to obtain the vital device. After a careful review of his case, and thanks to the generosity of our donors, the board decided to grant the financial help for Cáritas to purchase the device for Martín.
Finally, on February 14 (in Mexico, Valentine’s Day is a celebration of Love and Friendship), Martín’s mom signed a “contract of responsibility” for the device –a symbolic gesture on the importance of the gift and the care they should take of it. Martín received a new oxygen concentrator. On February 15, he was released from the hospital. After a two-day stay at some friends in San Cristóbal to insure he was getting along fine with the device, Martín was able to go home to his family.
These days, Martín (now 14) enjoys listening to music and going out with his friends. He can be without the device for up to an hour! His dream is to some day be well enough to use a portable concentrator so he can go to school.