Frank was gravely ill when he came to Casa Jackson. The 10-year-old boy with very devoted parents had been living a nightmare for the last 2 months. Frank had always been a healthy, happy boy who loved going to school and playing soccer with his friends, his parents told us. You wouldn't know it, looking at this little boy who weighed less than 50 lbs.
Frank started complaining of strong headaches towards the end of last school year. His parents, poor and uneducated, didn't have many options, so they took him to a public hospital where care is free but sub-standard. The doctors told Frank's parents that they needed to perform brain surgery.His parents didn't really understand the terminology the doctors were using, and didn't know what questions to ask before consenting. Following surgery, Frank lost his appetite and only ate a couple of spoonfuls of food and liquid each day. He was now too weak to walk, stand, or sit on his own, and even speaking was painful.
Since the surgery, Frank’s parents were going without food to purchase his medicine. His father, a carpenter, was working 18 hours a day to earn money; while his mother stayed by his bedside. They brought him to several hospitals and clinics. They were turned away each time until a doctor told them about Casa Jackson. It was hard for them to believe that we would try to help Frank at no cost. His father tried to repay us by offering to use his carpentry skills to build anything we needed, and offered for his wife to work as our maid.
Only a couple of days after Frank was admitted, he suffered a series of large seizures in the middle of the night and was rushed to a near-by hospital. Tests revealed that Frank had a large brain tumor. Casa Jackson staff used their connections to arrange an appointment with a well-known neurologist in Guatemala City, to find out if the tumor was operable and if Frank would survive long enough to have the surgery.
The day of the appointment, Frank must have known his time was limited. He kept telling his father that he just wanted to go home. Fifteen minutes after we gently placed Frank in his bed at home, he passed away surrounded by his loving parents, sister, aunts, uncles, and cousins.
The staff and volunteers at Casa Jackson share his family's profound grief but also their hope that Frank is now at peace. We wish this story had a different ending but, unfortunately, not every story is a success. Sometimes, children come to us too late to help. Despite our best efforts and well-connected medical network, we can't save them. These moments are thankfully few, but definitely the hardest at Casa Jackson. But they also remind us why this work is so vitally important in Guatemala. We work in memory of children like Frank, who came to us far too late and left us far too soon.
2011 has been quite the year at Casa Jackson. Following a ABC News 20/20 global health special, this page was created as part of their Be the Change, Save a Life initiative. Thanks to your contributions, we’ve saved many lives this year.
Throughout the month, you’ve read just a few of our success stories this year. None of this would have been possible without your support. Through efforts on this site alone, Casa Jackson has raised enough money to support our current operating costs for two years!
We’ve also had volunteers from all over the world donate over 10,000 hours of love and affection to our patients. Each of these volunteers has witnessed the everyday miracles that happen at Casa Jackson, and returned home full of passion for our children and our cause. Our doors are always open to new volunteers, and we would love to show you the important work that your donation has helped make possible.
Yes, 2011 has definitely been Casa Jackson’s most successful year yet. We hope that 2012 brings even more success, support and new friends. Thank you for joining our family this year, and we sincerely hope that you choose to continue supporting Casa Jackson in 2012.
You can follow all of our latest news, as well as read short bios of our patients, at: www.CasaJackson.org
Laura arrived at Casa Jackson weighing exactly 15 pounds—impossibly tiny for a 3-year-old girl. Our staff struggled to help Laura. Due to growing up in a home where food was not regularly available, Laura was unaccustomed to eating and struggled against our staff. Over the next few months, Laura’s weight fluctuated. Several times, our medical staff had to place a tube through her nose to deliver formula directly into her stomach to prevent her from losing any more weight.
Some weeks, little Laura truly was fighting for her life. Despite visiting a number of specialists, it remained unclear why Laura was so plagued with medical and developmental issues. We continued to provide her with the medical care, nutrition and affection that are the cornerstones of our in-patient program. Although she continued to fall ill from time to time, as the year wore on, Laura grew heavier and healthier.
After spending an entire year at Casa Jackson, Laura is finally healthy enough to return home to her loving mother and very devoted father. Laura is incredibly weak from being malnourished for much of her life and cannot sit or stand without a great deal of support. Her recovery required took a full year of support and patience; her on-going recuperation will take far longer. Laura’s parents have been taught how to best care for their fragile young daughter—and with continued support from Casa Jackson—Laura will receive the medical attention she needs tocontinue the long process of healing.
As Laura´s family celebrates her homecoming this Christmas, we want to thank you for giving Laura the greatest gift of all: her health. Merry Christmas from the babies, families, volunteers and staff of Casa Jackson.
In Guatemala, Casa Jackson is known and respected for the care and support we provide to malnourished babies and their families. By providing high-quality medical care to the most severely affected infants and children and much-needed education regarding basic nutrition to their families, we offer permanent recovery to malnourished children.
One of our lesser-known roles in the community is to serve as a temporary ‘save haven’ and nurturing environment for infants and children abandoned by incredibly impoverished, desperate parents.
Santos David is a playful, loving 5-year-old who was recently given up by his overwhelmed, desperate parents. With 7 other siblings to care for, they felt unable to care for Santos David any longer. They brought him to a hospital and filled out the paperwork necessary to turn him over to the Guatemalan child protection agency (PGN).
Santos David arrived at Casa Jackson trembling, afraid to look at any of the nurses, volunteers or children around him. Tears streaming down Santos’s face as he spent his first evening at Casa Jackson rocking in the arms of a volunteer, whimpering from time to time that ‘Mommy left.’
Thanks to the steady stream of loving, playful volunteers each day and his new best friend (fellow CJ patient three-and-a-half-year-old Azucena), Santos David has spent more of his days smiling and giggling than crying. He has a wonderful sense of humor and an immense appetite! He loves playing futbol (soccer), coloring, singing songs and—as most 5-year-old boys do—being mischievous!
Santos David faces an uncertain future. Due to the halt in foreign adoptions in recent years, he may grow up in an orphanage unless a local foster family or adoptive Guatemalan family can be found. While his future is uncertain, by looking into his smiling eyes it is clear that his time at Casa Jackson is making an impossibly sad and difficult time a little easier for him.
You may not have been aware of our important temporary safe haven work for infants and young children, but your donations help support this important service we lovingly provide. Please, help us welcome more abandoned children into warm, nurturing, protective custody with your generous donation.
When Alberto arrived at Casa Jackson in late March 2011, 2 months shy of his second birthday, he weighed only 13 pounds. His stomach was riddled with parasites and the resulting diarrhea gave him a rash so severe that his bottom was cracked and bleeding. He had been malnourished for so long that he was not only too weak to walk; he had never had the energy to learn in the first place. He was not yet talking, and communicated his considerable distress through near-constant cries and shrieks.
Alberto was gravely ill and he made it to Casa Jackson just in time. Two years ago, Alberto’s 14-month-old brother was admitted to Casa Jackson in a similar state. Unfortunately, Alberto’s family sought treatment for his brother’s malnutrition too late. Little Denis passed away after only a few days in our care. Determined for history to not repeat itself, we immediately began giving Alberto the vital calories and nutrients he needed, as well as the affection and attention he craved.
His parasitic infections were treated and he began to heal. The process has been slow. Now December, Alberto is still in Casa Jackson, nearly a year after he arrived. With each passing day, Alberto grows healthier and stronger. At two-and-a-half-years-old, he can finally walk, dance, clap and sing along to his favorite silly songs. The sad, frail baby we met in March is gone, replaced by a vibrant, affectionate toddler who will soon go home to his family.
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