Cristobal only recently had teeth grow in his mouth, with none in his earliest years. The 2004 medical mission team found that he
was also anemic.
The boy's condition was first discussed in Le Mars after Catherine Withrow, a Gehlen Catholic graduate, was part of a 2001 medical mission to the Honduran village with Seivert. After the 2003 medical team from Mission Honduras LeMars saw Cristobal's condition, Dr. Tom Duncan talked with Richard Seivert, director of the nonprofit program.
"We might fail, but we might as well try," they decided in seeking medical help for the boy.
Larger hospitals turned down their requests to diagnose the boy's condition. Personnel at Medical Associates and Floyd Valley, as well as other donors, contributed to make the tests possible there for Cristobal.
His mother signed a power of attorney to Tacha Alvarado. Traveling with the boy, Alvarado could sign for medical treatments and make decisions on his behalf.
Cristobal received tests that were not available in Honduras. The tests proved tiring for the boy, but he was eager to give out hugs the next day with friends from Floyd Valley Hospital and Gehlen Catholic School.
The two visitors stayed with Tom and Cecilia Henrich in Le Mars. Cecilia teaches
language and religion classes at Gehlen. Cristobal liked playing with the Henrich children during his stay and enjoyed a day of classes at Gehlen Catholic Elementary School, Richard Seivert indicated.
Cristobal received a diagnosis of his bone disease. The nine-year-old suffers from chronic multi-focal osteomyelitis, a bone infection. At this time it appears the infection is in check and no damage is presently occurring, Seivert has been told.
"Having had this condition for years, Cristobal's joints have been severely affected and growth plates have been damaged," said Seivert, who is also guidance counselor at Gehlen Catholic High School. "We don't know if they will respond. At this time we do not know whether his bones will continue to grow at the same rate or at all."
A specialist consulted in Omaha recommended monitoring the boy for the next six months, watching for bone growth. While at times Cristobal suffers from a great deal of pain, he is reported as getting along all right at the current time. Surgery is still a possibility, but it is now more important to see if the damaged bones and joints will grow, Seivert has been told by doctors. Cristobal has been given specific instructions for his improvement and care, he said.
"If we have to bring him back to the country for surgery in the future, we will," said Seivert.
The doctor at the new medical clinic in El Guante, built with the help of Mission Honduras LeMars, has been asked to monitor the boy's growth.
Dr. Tom Duncan will continue to check Cristobal's condition, according to Seivert. The Le Mars physician first saw him on a medical mission trip sponsored by Mission Honduras LeMars in January 2003.