I briefly met Miguel last year when I was traveling to a remote village in northern Mexico. My heart went out to this boy and the family that has literally become his lifeline.
Miguel comes from a village about 3 hours hike from a remote medical clinic staffed by a missionary doctor and his family. He was about 7 years old when his family brought him to the clinic. He was very weak, skinny and not able to walk with nosebleeds and was coughing up blood. He was diagnosed with TB and sent to the government hospital in the capitol to recover.
A couple of years later the doctor heard that a boy was being brought in who was very weak. They were asked to pick him up along the path from his village as he couldn’t walk the last mile. When they arrived, the patient was once again Miguel. He had the look of someone in severe kidney failure and initial lab tests done in the remote clinic revealed he needed immediate intervention. A missionary flight was called in and he was flown once again to the capitol where he stayed for about a month in the same hospital.
His diagnosis showed he was in severe kidney failure and only had a small percentage of kidney function left. After his time in the hospital, he was released, but his prognosis was grim. He would have to remain on abdominal dialysis unless a kidney transplant could be done. The missionary doctor was there when the hospital staff attempted to show his very traditional, tribal parents how to apply dialysis treatments through a surgically implanted plastic tube in his abdomen. They are completely monolingual and speak no Spanish.
The missionary doctor knew that to send Miguel home to his hidden village, where most of the inhabitants live in mud adobe houses or caves, where the only access is to hike 3 hours along a riverbed, was a death sentence. To be sent home like this would ensure that he only had 1 month, maybe 2, left to live. Even if the heavy dialysis bags could be shipped in via donkey or on someone’s back the conditions in the homes with dirt floors and no ventilation, where disease was sitting dormant on most of the surfaces, meant certain infection. Additionally, his daily dialysis needs were 4 to 7 treatments a day. The boxes of life saving fluid used in dialysis take up almost an entire room! It would also have required someone transporting Miguel each month to the government kidney specialist to receive a prescription for another month’s supply of the fluids and scores of medications, and then to take another 2-3 days to run all over the city to various government agencies picking up the meds by piecemeal from various agencies.
The doctor approached his wife about taking Miguel into their home.
Miguel has been living with them now since June of 2008. His heart is tender to things of the Lord and He loves hearing stories from the Bible and listening to and memorizing Christian choruses that have been translated into his language. His very still traditional monolingual parents and close family visit on site once a week and spend the weekend close so there is a good friendship with the extended family.
What makes this story even more remarkable is that some years before, while the doctor was studying medicine in a nearby city, the family took in another person suffering from kidney failure. Over a few years they watched the young woman slowly deteriorate. She died in the doctor’s arms after becoming an integral part of their family. The doctor, his wife, and their children grieved deeply. Now, once again, they face the prospect of losing an adopted family member.
The government has recently shut down their kidney transplant program for lack of funds although two of Miguel’s sisters say they would like to be tested for a donated kidney potential. Even when the program was open, they were not able to approve the lifetime of anti rejection meds that would be needed to allow the kidney to remain functioning well in his body. It’s possible that the program may open up again someday, but it will probably be too late for Miguel.
These requests for prayer were sent to me by the doctor and his family:
- Please pray with us that we would be wise to make each day count with Miguel as he grows into a deeper knowledge of God and His ways and that he would comprehend God’s word even though it is still not translated into his heart language.
- Miguel continues to live with our family and the team gives us a break when we have to travel or need help with him. Looking back, having Miguel with us has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, but has brought the great blessing. Praise God for this opportunity to serve Miguel.
Thanks for praying for Miguel.