It’s Friday night, August 30th, 2015. Midnight. A 24-year-old man is sitting alone on the ledge of his porch, having a beer, in El Rosario, Guatemala. He falls backward and lands on his neck. He can’t move and he can’t speak.
This is a story about my friend Sony.
At 2am one of his brothers went out to look for him and found him laying on the ground.
“Get up! Let’s go inside.” His brother thought he was drunk so he and another brother carried him inside and put him to bed.
As the sun came up and everyone started moving around the house, Sony was awake and aware but he couldn’t speak. They realized something was wrong and in a panic called for an ambulance. Three of Sony’s brothers wrapped him in a bed sheet and carried him up a narrow dirt trail to the main road.
The nearby National Hospital in Chimaltenango didn’t admit him and referred him to a private hospital to get an MRI. Not surprisingly, the MRI showed he had a spinal chord injury. Doctors at the National Hospital said they couldn’t operate on him and referred him to Roosevelt National Hospital in Guatemala City.
When people are referred to Roosevelt, it’s generally bad news.
At Roosevelt, doctors told the family, “If we operate on Sony in this condition, he’ll die. We’ll operate but you have to understand he won’t survive.”
Sony made the decision to go home to be with family. He didn’t want to die on the operating table.
Sometimes I wonder what Sony was thinking that night? As he lay on his bed, unable to move, women were crying and praying. Little kids were watching with wide eyes from behind the adults surrounding Sony’s bed. What was he thinking?
As friends and neighbors prayed over Sony, his immediate family was in another room, planning. They weren’t ready to give up.
They decided to take him to a doctor in the city who they’d heard about, a doctor who “fixes bones”. In the complete darkness and in desperation they carried Sony back up the dirt trail at 3am, using cell phones to light the way, and drove him to the city in a borrowed car.
The bone doctor looked at Sony’s exam results and told him they couldn’t help him. “We don’t perform surgeries.”
Out of options they drove to another National Hospital, which was just a few minutes away. Miraculously, they admitted Sony. They said, “He shouldn’t be alive.” Doctors immediately ordered additional exams and formulated a plan to save him.
Sony survived the first 6-hour surgery. A titanium plate was inserted into his spinal chord. Two days later they performed a Trachostomy where a tube was inserted into his throat so he could breathe. During that procedure, Sony went into respiratory arrest. He flat lined. After 5 minutes of CPR, Sony was revived.
Sony was on a ventilator for almost 3 weeks. And then, after 3 months and 10 days, Sony was released from San Juan De Dios, paralyzed but miraculously alive.
For the past two years Sony has had physical therapy twice a day, every day. Today, Sony has regained movement in his arms and legs. He can speak…quietly. And he can smile.
Doctors believe he’s ready to breathe on his own, without a tube coming out of his neck. The next procedure is to take the tube out, which will give the trachea the chance to heal and it will give Sony a significantly higher quality of life. Taking the tube out diminishes the chance of infections, like pneumonia, that could kill him.
Sony’s ALIVE. He’s more than alive; he’s gaining more movement, he’s fighting and he’s smiling.
In the States, the procedure he needs and the hospital stay would cost $250,000.
Doctors in Guatemala have agreed to perform the surgery at no cost, but because the surgery will take place at one of Guatemala’s elite hospitals, it will cost $1,000 per day for Sony’s 7-day recovery. If he stops breathing or if he has complications the hospital will have the staff and equipment to take care of him.
We’ve already raised $4,000 of the $7,000 needed. We’re looking for 13 radical people who will donate $200 to help Sony get more of his life back. I asked Sony recently, why do you work so hard? Why do you do therapy every day, twice a day?”
“I continue to trust God and I keep praying that one day I’ll walk again.”
We take so much for granted.
If you would like to donate $200, click HERE and put “Sony” in the memo. Your gift is a tax deductible donation.