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Care Without Borders for Marcelo’s Feet

Mexico, Salt Lake City and Portland Shriners Children’s locations collaborate to bring care to a child in Mexico.

Shriners Children’s provides treatment for nearly 20,000 children and families from over 130 countries each year and that number is growing.

With each Shriners Children’s location collaborating with one another, world-class care to patients regardless of ability to pay or geographic location is ensured. Recently, Shriners Children’s Portland worked alongside Shriners Children’s Salt Lake City and Mexico City locations to bring a patient to the Northwest to receive treatment. Working against travel restrictions, visa renewals and expenses, these locations were successful in bringing this young man to Portland for care that would change his life.

Marcelo and his mother, Gabriela, started their journey to Shriners Children’s care in Chihuahua, Mexico. Marcelo was diagnosed with bilateral cavovarus feet, which means that he has very high arches in both of his feet, leading him to walk on the insides of his feet. Searching for a solution, Marcelo and Gabriela were encouraged by their local doctor in Mexico to contact Shriners Children’s Mexico City. Due to their proximity to El Paso, Texas, the family was able to get in touch with Shriners Children’s Salt Lake City. It was here that the family was told about Kathryn Fuchs, M.D., and her work in orthopedics.

Prior to coming to Shriners Children’s, Marcelo and his family had been offered many options, but they continued to hunt for less invasive solutions that didn’t involve intensive surgery. After being put in contact with the family, Dr. Fuchs communicated findings of the best options for Marcelo – which was to get him to Shriners Children’s Portland for a surgery to reconstruct his feet. Now it was time to figure out how to get Marcello and his family to Oregon.

Leading up to his surgery in Portland, Marcelo and his family were in constant touch with the teams at Shriners Children’s Portland and Shriners Children’s Salt Lake City. Arrangements for travel were made, and pre-op appointments were completed with Dr. Fuchs over video chat. With the help of generous donations, Shriners Children’s is able to cover travel expenses for families, whether they are travelling within state lines or internationally. In Marcelo’s case, travelling to Portland would be a huge financial burden. “If I had to pay for the surgery and travel, I would have had to sell my house,” Gabriela said. “You would do anything for your child.” Shriners Children’s makes sure that no family has to sacrifice their livelihood for access to the best orthopedic care.

This is not just any hospital. The people who work here have hearts of gold – this place is priceless.
Gabriela, Marcelo's mother

Once Marcelo and his family stepped foot into Shriners Children’s Portland, they knew that they were in good hands. Dr. Fuchs orchestrated a successful surgery with the help of a team of specialized surgeons, and Marcelo is set to recover seamlessly. Part of his journey was spent with the Portland care management team and medical interpreters. These individuals assured Marcelo and Gabriela that they were going to receive the best care possible. “Marcelo was always smiling and upbeat,” Catherine Wells, RN, care manager, said. “His mother Gabriela was positive throughout the entire process and very attentive to Marcelo’s needs. The family was able to return to Portland six weeks later for a post-operative follow-up and physical therapy appointments. As a result, Marcelo is doing well in his recovery.”

Another part of his journey was making his way down to the rehabilitation department where he worked with physical and occupational therapists after his surgery. When asked about exciting post-surgery plans, Marcelo explained that he was eager to get back in the gym and that he wants to buy a pair of cowboy boots.

This surgery would not have been possible without the collaboration between various Shriners Children’s locations, the kindness of providers like Dr. Fuchs and generous donations. No matter the case, Shriners Children’s sets out to deliver the best care to each patient. The expansion of helping patients across borders just emphasizes that mission. In the words of Gabriela, “This is not just any hospital. The people who work here have hearts of gold – this place is priceless.”

Marcelo and mother, Gabriela, made the journey to Shriners Children's Portland

After video calls and visas - Marcelo and Gabriela were able to come to Shriners Children's Portland with the help of many Shriners Children's staff members.

Marcelo pre surgery

Marcelo prepares to go into surgery at Shriners Children's Portland.

Marcello post surgery

Hanging out post surgery, Marcelo rests and grins for the camera.

Marcelo in van

Marcelo and Gabriela were shuttled to the hospital by a friendly hospital volunteer.

Marcelo and Gabriella

Marcelo and Gabriela look back on their trip to Shriners Children's Portland fondly.

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