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Three Lives Dramatically Impacted By Medical Care At Dorie’s Promise.

Monday, April 24th, 2017

DOctor Castro is a beloved member of the team at Dorie's Promise

By Dr. Francisco Castro (Medical Director) –

Second of two parts

In my last blog, I talked about our success last year with the child care program at Dorie’s Promise. Today, I want to relate personal stories about three children whose lives have been impacted dramatically by Forever Changed International.

Doctor Castro checks on Josue

Doctor Castro checks on Josue after a surgery in 2015.

The first is Josue, who will celebrate his fifth birthday on July 3. His life started out with little promise after his mother abandoned him on the street just two days after his birth. A firefighter rescued him and took him to a hospital in Guatemala City.

Through a physical exam and imaging tests, a pediatrician discovered serious birth defects that required urgent surgery.

When Josue arrived at Dorie’s Promise, he still had a colostomy bag in place. We prescribed antibiotics, laxatives, special fluids and other measures, including reconstructive surgery, to correct his condition.

We later discovered that Josue suffered from urinary tract malformations, urinary infections, and kidney damage. After several operations, we discovered his bladder was not functioning. He needed another operation.

This brave, resilient—and loved—child will continue receiving antibiotics, urinary tests, and check-ups. Though he will need multidisciplinary medical interventions, thankfully Josue has the promise of a future.

Efrain is 13 years old and has been diagnosed with a condition associated with severe intellectual disabilities and physical abnormalities. Among them are blindness, small hands, and partial convulsions.

Other health problems he suffers from are chronic bronchitis, recurrent upper respiratory infections, and breathing difficulties. Efrain has received continuous pediatric care to address his needs since arriving at Dorie’s Promise in 2005.

This has included neurologists’ and geneticists’ assistance, physiotherapy, and pediatric surgeons’ interventions. He receives physiotherapy daily and a weekly visit from a specialized therapist.

This intervention delays, and improves, stiffness in Efrain’s joints and spine, and paralysis of his limbs. A cataract on his left eye was successfully removed in 2011; he now uses glasses.

Doctor Castro checks Lester.

Doctor Castro with Lester in 2010.

Last year Efrain underwent two successful operations by pediatric surgeons at Hospital Roosevelt in Guatemala. They corrected abdominal and adenoid problems, and removed his tonsils.

Nine-year-old Lester has been at Dorie’s Promise since before he turned two. He arrived chronically undernourished, which left him with short stature and a low IQ. He also suffered from chronic asthma, rhinitis, and middle ear infections.

Due to Lester’ s lack of progress in hearing and speech development, and upper respiratory infections, I decided to operate with a pediatric surgeon’s assistance, removing his tonsils and adenoids.

The operation last October was successful. Lester’s speech and respiratory problems (infections and allergies) are expected to improve gradually, enhancing his quality of life.

Stories like these demonstrate the value of your gifts to children at Dorie’s Promise. You are literally helping save their lives!

Personal and Medical Reflections

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

Personal and Medical Reflections by Dr. Francisco Castro Medical Director

By Dr. Francisco Castro (Medical Director) –

First of two parts

Dorie's Promise Medical Director Dr CastroEvery year at Dorie’s Promise has been a special one, and this past year was no exception. During 2016, we provided shelter for dozens of kids, but much more than that as we met many other prerequisites for a happy life.

Our goal is to fulfill children’s needs in four basic areas: physical, safety, affection, and spiritual life. These are the most important needs to take care of as soon as an orphan arrives. Then, we seek to reinforce them in an individualized and continuous manner during their stay at the home.

Improved self-esteem and education are our other primary goals. Of course, we want to care for children’s mental and social aspects of health as well.

Most of the children remained at Dorie’s Promise throughout the year, although some returned to their immediate families or relatives. Only a few were adopted by Guatemalan families. Others came to us for the first time, from other homes or families, or from at-risk situations on the streets.

Many arrive in poor health, with most suffering from acute and chronic physical illnesses. Twenty percent of our child population come with special needs and permanent neurological damage.

In most, we found negative psychological and spiritual conditions because of abandonment, abuse and lack of love. Without exception, these kids are coming from backgrounds of poverty, which is the common denominator.

Dr Castro gives Silvia a check up at Dorie's PromiseThat doesn’t surprise me, since nearly 60 percent of Guatemala’s population lives in poverty and 43 percent of children under five are chronically undernourished.

Because of my experience and extensive reading, I have concluded that Guatemala needs more children’s homes providing the kind of care that Dorie’s Promise delivers. Foster care is still a weak, idealistic social program and adoptive families few in number.

Culturally and economically, adoption hasn’t been viable for many families or social programs. To recruit, maintain, follow up, and train families to do so means a huge financial commitment, or at least better organized, collaborative communities.

Our programs are not perfect. I am aware that there is a need to reinforce financially our health and psychological programs, as well as education, arts and sports. In addition to Special Mothers improving their love and care, we need the presence of more men to improve role examples and gender identity.

Yet, despite our imperfections I am pleased to say that—thanks to our friends in the U.S.  and Guatemala—Dorie’s Promise and FCI have successfully provided a good home to many children in need.

They have achieved happiness and have a much brighter future. They could have otherwise been lost to an unjust and dangerous environment. We appreciate your support.

Good Health & Relationships at Dorie’s Promise

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Doctor Castro and some of his "patients"

By Dr. Francisco Castro –

Lester takes a listenWe believe that good health depends on dynamic but stable relationships among biological, psychological, social and spiritual factors. A comprehensive and integral health system should become involved in attending to such factors.

Our system utilizes four health strategies; health promotion (via education of Dorie’s Promise personnel), disease preventive, treatment and rehabilitation.

We keep a close eye on the children’s growth and development through regular check-ups, depending on child age and health, it allows us to get a baseline when a child arrives and then allows us to accurately gage outcomes from our interventions.

During the first few hours after a child arrives at Dorie’s Promise we give them a thoroughly physical and mental examination and a preliminary clinical impression is determined, follow by a plan for their health and development.

Hans, happy and healthy at our home.

Hans, happy and healthy living at our home.

A child may be put into quarantine for a few days, under close observation and gradually be adapted to the homes environment. In the meantime, we are able to get test results and treat them for any preexisting conditions. This system, of quarantine and gradual introduction has been successful in preventing outbreaks of infectious diseases. It’s been many years since we’ve had a major outbreak.

One boy, Hans came to use this year after being hit by a car. He suffered some head trauma, as well as suffering from other problems being related to having lived on his own, on the streets. Dental cavities, lice and scabies are common malady’s see when children first enter our home.

The program also watches out for personnel whom could bring in infectious diseases, diagnosing and treating or giving recommendations. We also have been able to serve missionaries that become ill when visiting our home. Occasionally also serving other children´s homes that ask for pediatric assistance and advice.

We work hard to promote a healthy lifestyle for personnel and children, so almost every activity at Dorie’s Promise has a potentially positive impact on integral health. In that respect activities are assessed to help avoid accidents, food safety is reviewed to prevent food borne illnesses, and healthy food and physical activities are promoted. All children are in need of good health education and training for them to take care of themselves, live and work an independent life.

Doctor Castro and his nurse with several of the children from Dorie's Promise.25% of our children suffer more complex and chronic illness that require ongoing treatment. They will need our program to provide continuing access to pediatric, psychological and specialized professionals to help them.

Dorie’s Promise through its health program has been blessed with a good relationship so far with Guatemala´s private sector healthcare, Ministry of Health officials and medical teams working at the leading public/teaching hospitals and their pediatric and specialties departments. These hospitals, clinics and laboratories are willing to continue supporting us, most of them giving time and services without any financial demand from us.

Thank you to all of our homes donors and sponsors who provide for our children. We are only able to offer this excellent healthcare because of your help.

A Report from Doctor Castro

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Doctor Castro with children from Dorie's Promise

Some reflections on my experience as a physician and pediatrician at Dorie’s Promise, serving orphans and battered, abused, neglected Guatemalan children:

In my youth I was attracted to, and still am, to three different fields of study: anthropology, architecture, and medicine. I learned, in fact, that the three are related to each other. They are centered on the needs of the human race, such as the need for cooperation between people working together in order to achieve an ultimate goal.

All three fields are in a constant search for knowledge and practices that can improve people’s lives, but above all, the three are based on the idea of the common good of the people. I visualized myself helping and caring for children, so I decided to study Pediatrics in Guatemala and England.

Luis gets a check up.Working with children in a pediatric practice has transformed and utterly touched my life.

Every moment I have spent serving children has made me more conscious and aware of the true miracle of life.

Children are the light of the world — they are a fount of energy emitted onto others, especially people who are in direct contact with them and, ultimately, those people are the primary beneficiaries of this positive energy.

After my decision to retire from academia, hospital life, and private practice, a position at Dorie’s Promise was offered to me, and I saw this as a good opportunity to continue serving children. So I accepted and have been serving at the orphanage for more than eight years.

Guatemala is a poor country where many children need attention and good care. I truly feel God has provided me with direction, proper guidance, and the strength to continue as a doctor and health adviser serving the children of Dorie’s Promise — not only visiting them as their pediatrician, but also being on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. With our nurse assistant and administrative personnel plus the Special Moms, I have been privileged in the task of watching the children’s growth and development closely, coming up with early interventions to prevent and cure almost 97% of their health needs. In regards to the other 3-5% of their health needs that I am not able to directly provide, I have been able to use my resources and medical contacts for expert second opinions and intervention.

Our health program has been blessed by having great leadership for both our home and non-profit organization and coworkers that believe in our work, who are committed and passionate for service. This has allowed us to improve and maintain efficient and effective health Doctor Castro checks up on a child from Dorie's Promiseinterventions, based on Christian principles. Dorie’s Promise is always concerned about the children’s safety, fulfilling their needs by providing them shelter, their basic physiological needs, integral health, security, affection, self-esteem, learning, and a beautiful and harmonious home.

The children have suffered through a few very dangerous infectious outbreaks in the past: large Rotavirus gastroenteritis, adenovirus pneumonia, eye and skin infections, and parasites. But I can proudly say that since 2006, and with great thanks to our health system, home improvements, and preventative measures, our children have not suffered anymore infectious outbreaks and have been protected from these always-potential threats.

So what’s in store for Dorie’s Promise in the future? We will continue to work with these beautiful and amazing children through the support and dedication from U.S. supporters and our dedicated Christian missionaries and other partners. I see Dorie’s Promise as a good example to other homes, working with other Guatemalan organizations as partners to improve and extend our services to communities in need. Our health program will be caring for children ranging from newborns to adolescents, but the fact of life is that our children are growing up under our care and bit by bit reaching adulthood; so we will need to focus our health care and education on preparing our children for the real world with responsibilities.

Health Report

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

By Dr. Francisco Castro-Barillas-

I want to give you a report on our Health Program at Dorie’s Promise, outlining our achievements in the previous year and our successful support of the care provided to our children.  This program has been an invaluable support to Forever Changed and Dorie’s Promise’s goal to provide a loving Christian home for children to grow, thrive, develop, and reach their full potential.

Our medical program has accomplished many achievements in 2012.  We have fulfilled all administrative, Health Program, and clinical duties.  One hundred percent of the illnesses at Dorie’s Promise have been solved satisfactorily and have not returned or resulted in complications thanks to early interventions, preventive measures, and close monitoring.  Every child continues to receive comprehensive, personalized pediatric medical attention.  In 2012, their health needs were properly attended to on a daily and as-needed basis and continue to be.  Not a single dangerous infectious disease outbreak has happened since 2007 (before my arrival).  Every new child presenting to Dorie’s Promise with acute undernourishment has fully recovered within two weeks of coming into our care.

Dental cavities have been attended to and treated in 97% of cases.  A few children are still being treated, and two have not been able to receive attention due to psychological concerns and/or developmental delay.  Obesity has not been a concern for most of our children, except that five of them remain overweight.

Our health program has proven extremely proficient in handling health concerns independently: 97% of illnesses were solved by our Health Program at Dorie’s Promise through physician and nursing interventions—only 3% of health problems needed a second opinion or the utilization of outside facilities.

In addition to providing for the care of our children, the nurse and I were able to give medical attention to Dorie’s Promise personnel and families (with 225 medical and 350 nurse consultations).  We have an open-door policy for our families and personnel.  These interventions and preventative measures allowed us to address illnesses and prevent infectious disease outbreaks in our facility.  The nurse and I were also able to provide education and medical attention for missionaries and other visitors, ensuring that health concerns were addressed as needed.

Thanks to our Health Program, Forever Changed has saved a large amount of money, being supported by US and Guatemalan donations.  100% of our vaccines were donated by our Guatemalan friends and the Ministry of Health’s donations. 97% of laboratory procedures and tests have been performed for free (80% by private lab donations and 17% by public hospital assistance).

Overall, the Health Program has enabled us to provide a much needed service that supports the safety, well-being, and development of our children in Dorie’s Promise.  We look forward to continuing our service in the coming year.

Providing Medical Care

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Our goal this year is to raise $32,400 to cover the costs for our medical program.

Here’s what that includes for the year:

  • $16,000 — Dr. Castro’s salary
  • $8,000 — Nurse salary
  • $1,400 — Office space
  • $2,000 — Supplies, prescriptions, medicine
  • $1,000 — Equipment
  • $4,000 — Emergency hospital fund

These medical costs are vital to the operation of Dorie’s Promise and our ability to care for all of our children.

“That may sound like a lot but when you break it down it is only about $75 per child each month to make sure all our children are receiving the best medical care possible,” says founder Heather Radu. “Our supporters have been so generous in the past that I am asking them to again consider a special gift.”

In his report last year Dr. Castro remarked, "Naturally, we treat acute illnesses—mostly minor injuries—and respiratory, gastrointestinal, and skin problems. However, we are aware that children at our home also suffer from chronic conditions, usually identified when they arrive. Most are curable, but some problems remain and will “mark” a child forever. This is the case with children who have cerebral palsy or a congenital syndrome."

"The most common disorder is malnutrition, which affects a child’s stature, brain development, and sometimes his or her mental health. Of course, there is always hope. We often see the miracle called resilience. This is a phenomenon where—despite a miserable past, neglect and abuse—a child emerges to become a wonderful, affectionate human being."

This is a serious need. Imagine all the doctor visits you have for just one child—then multiply that by 40. Can you help? Click on the “Donate Now” link below and then write medical care in the comments box.

 

 

If you can make a donation, it will be appreciated by every child who relies on our care to make it through his or her formative years.

Good Health

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Earlier we shared the story of Dulce Maria, an infant who came into our care small and sickly. Thanks to Doctor Castro and our medical team she got the care she needed. Dr. Castro continues to monitor her health, growth, and development.

I am happy to report that her health continues to improve as she grows. You can see the difference that loving care and good medicine make.

Dulce Maria is not the only child in our care whose life Dr. Castro's intervention saved.

In Abraham’s case, recent quick action by our staff literally saved his life. He suffered  from bronchitis when he arrived as an infant, but Dr. Francisco Castro helped him cope with the disease.

One night several weeks ago, his Special Mother realized he was having trouble breathing and contacted Dr. Castro, who came quickly to help.

Dr. Castro recognized that Abraham’s breathing problems, coupled with a high fever, signaled a serious case of pneumonia. He used our oxygen unit to help provide relief and then had the boy transported to a private hospital.

Not only did Abraham survive, he is showing incredible improvements in many areas. Today he is beginning to speak some words, eats by himself, is mobile, and demonstrates a free spirit and curiosity toward the world.

That’s why I want to ask you for help. Our goal this year is to raise $32,400 to cover the costs for our medical program.

Here’s what that includes for the year:

  • $16,000 — Dr. Castro’s salary
  • $8,000 — Nurse salary
  • $1,400 — Office space
  • $2,000 — Supplies, prescriptions, medicine
  • $1,000 — Equipment
  • $4,000 — Emergency hospital fund

These medical costs are vital to the operation of Dorie’s Promise and our ability to care for all of our children.

Please prayerfully consider helping with a special gift today. I don’t know what you are able to give. It seems everyone I talk with is completely engaged in the election right now, and I understand why that happens. I would simply ask that you pray about this and consider something special. Every gift matters as we work to get these medical costs covered.

Maybe you have the ability to give $500 — or $1,000. You might be more comfortable giving a gift of $100 or $50. Or maybe God is putting it on your heart to completely cover one of the items I’ve listed. Whatever your situation, I only ask that you give what is right in your heart. If you are ready to give today CLICK HERE.

Her Health Is In Your Hands

Monday, October 29th, 2012

You know what it is like to hold a brand-new baby in your arms. There is something really special about the moment. Holding that baby just reminds you of the fragility of life.      

Now imagine holding a very sick little baby girl — just days old. Her mother and father are gone for good. Her lungs are weak, she struggles to breathe.

That’s what it was like for Dr. Castro this last July when we found out Dulce Maria was coming to Dorie’s Promise.

She arrived as the smallest bundle we’ve ever seen. It was plain to see she was very sick.

Almost immediately she began having difficulty breathing at night. In fact, at one point it was really bad. We called Dr. Castro. He contacted the nurse right away and had little Dulce Maria put on oxygen. At midnight the same night, we rolled the oxygen into her room to allow her to breathe easier.

Dr. Castro suspected pneumonia after he examined Dulce Maria, so he sent her to the hospital — his diagnosis was confirmed. She received treatment and is now back at Dorie’s Promise, where Dr. Castro continues to monitor her health, growth, and development.

Because of Dr. Castro, Dulce Maria is alive and a major health crisis was averted. Without him, and the rest of our medical team, we would have nowhere to go to address our needs for healthcare.

That’s why I want to ask you for help. Our goal this year is to raise $32,400 to cover the costs for our medical program.

Here’s what that includes for the year:

  • $16,000 — Dr. Castro’s salary
  • $8,000 — Nurse salary
  • $1,400 — Office space
  • $2,000 — Supplies, prescriptions, medicine
  • $1,000 — Equipment
  • $4,000 — Emergency hospital fund

These medical costs are vital to the operation of Dorie’s Promise and our ability to care for all of our children.

Our goal is to have Dorie’s Promise covered 100 percent by sponsorships, but we are not there yet … and this is so important that I must ask for your help today.

Please prayerfully consider helping with a special gift today. I don’t know what you are able to give. It seems everyone I talk with is completely engaged in the election right now, and I understand why that happens. I would simply ask that you pray about this and consider something special. Every gift matters as we work to get these medical costs covered.

Maybe you have the ability to give $500 — or $1,000. You might be more comfortable giving a gift of $100 or $50. Or maybe God is putting it on your heart to completely cover one of the items I’ve listed. Whatever your situation, I only ask that you give what is right in your heart. If you are ready to give today CLICK HERE.

Thank you for all that you have done — for sharing our heart’s desire to care for Guatemalan orphans. Our children love and appreciate your prayers and financial support. You make a difference that will last!

Sincerely,

Heather Radu

Founder

 

P.S.  Dulce Maria was a sick little girl. I honestly wasn’t sure she was going to make it. I know having her in Dr. Castro’s loving hands saved her life. We are blessed to have him on our team.

Report from Dr. Castro

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

By Dr. Francisco Castro-

January marked the start of my sixth year as medical director and pediatrician at Dorie’s Promise. The past month brought non-stop activity and numerous issues to attend to, especially after Christmas vacation.

However, we were able to meet every need because of our committed, capable team, which strives to fulfill children’s needs.

Above all, we place a priority on children’s integral health. This includes day-to-day, individual attention for children, personnel and sometimes visitors. Whether a doctor, Special Mother or administrative personnel, everyone watches for the “little things” that can become major concerns.

By doing this we are able to promote children’s biological and physiological health, healthy social interaction, and supportive spirituality.

Naturally, we treat acute illnesses—mostly minor injuries—and respiratory, gastrointestinal, and skin problems. However, we are aware that children at our home also suffer from chronic conditions, usually identified when they arrive. Most are curable, but some problems remain and will “mark” a child forever. This is the case with children who have cerebral palsy or a congenital syndrome.

The most common disorder is malnutrition, which affects a child’s stature, brain development, and sometimes his or her mental health. Of course, there is always hope. We often see the miracle called resilience. This is a phenomenon where—despite a miserable past, neglect and abuse—a child emerges to become a wonderful, affectionate human being.

Our health system has also evolved to provide useful norms and procedures that enable us to avoid nasty, infectious-disease outbreaks, a common problem in the past. However, this remains a threat in an institution where many children and adults live together.

As with any system, everything is prone to failures, as well improvements and innovations. This is precisely the challenge I see in front of us.

Our children still need improved developmental and learning opportunities, more daily physical activities, healthier diets, more effective dental procedures, and a healthy, stimulating environment.

Guatemala has slowed adoptions in recent years, which presents another challenge. While we still accept babies, other children are growing fast and will stay longer with us. So, another adjustment we must make is caring for older children, including adolescents.

This requires us to do more research on children’s adoptability and find more resources to deal with enormous social, economic and cultural situations, and work to prevent poverty and resolve other social issues.

We must also act as advocates and work to provide the best care possible if we want to see healthier children—and future productive citizens.

This means we must not only provide care at our home, but seek to help communities through comprehensive outreach programs. I believe this will be possible with solidarity, loving care and commitment from those of us who have the privileges of a wealthier life, education and Christian values.

Efrain has Cataract Surgery

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

By Desi Stephens

Last week we experienced a real-life demonstration of why our campaign to raise $31,000 by Dec. 31 to adequately fund the medical program at Dorie’s Promise is so important.

Seven-year-old Efrain had surgery recently on his left eye because of cataracts. Surgeons removed the lens and anterior capsule and implanted an artificial lens. A Nov. 8 check-up showed good results.

“The surgeons see a good outcome so far,” says Dr. Francisco Castro, our medical director.

“Due to his body language, general reactions, and eye reactions, my first clinical impression is that—for the first time—Efrain is showing clear interest in his surroundings and the doctors’ and nurses’ faces.”

Not only is Efrain starting to visualize images, after a few months, Dr. Castro expects him to be healed. And, to be able to develop further skills.

“I hope he will able to manage some abstract understanding,” Dr. Castro says. “This will help him progress with personal development, even though he will still have a chromosome disorder and developmental delay.”

Mama Miriam, one of our Special Mothers, calls it “amazing” to see Efrain trying to follow lights and sounds for the first time.

“When I try to get close to him he is more alert than before,” agrees Mama Carol. “I guess it is because for the first time in his life he is seeing shapes and colors.”

Director Alejandra Diaz says there is nothing that makes her happier than knowing that Dorie’s Promise is changing lives forever.

“We just did something for Efrain that will literally change his way to see the world,” Alej says. “Is that not enough reason to keep committed and working and doing my best for all our children, every day?”

This progress cheers our hearts and shows why funding for our medical program is so vital.

The outcome of Efrain’s surgery marks the second time this fall that we have seen amazing results because of this initiative. The other was Abraham, a child who had been ill regularly since coming here last year.

Quick action by his Special Mother and Dr. Castro helped keep him breathing before he was rushed to a private hospital for treatment of pneumonia.

The question is: where would Abraham be today without this special help? We hate to think of the answer.

When considering how medical care has brightened the future for so many children, we think it offers a cost-benefit ratio that would make any business proud.

“Our supporters have been so generous in the past,” says founder Heather Radu. “I am confident they will again help us meet this needs with special gifts.”

If you can help, click here “Give Today”.