Mission Honduras LeMars Aids Little Boy
Along with his
mom Lissie and dad Juan, Illich Rivera returned to Tegucigalpa, Honduras,
Christmas Eve afternoon. He was met at the airport by his extended family.
Francis Seivert, representing Mission Honduras LeMars, took the family to
Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport early December 24, 2007, for their
sponsored by Mission Honduras LeMars, entered the U.S., along with his mom
and dad, October 19, 2007, after Mission Honduras LeMars received a charity
waiver from the Mayo Clinic and the necessary visas from the U.S.
Government. Illich's first appointment occurred on October 24, 2007.
Illich and parents stayed at the home of Mark Kellen in Rochester during their 9 ½
week stay and were assisted daily by Francis Seivert, Elkton, SD.
Sarah Abraham and Dr. Tom Boyce, assisted by Dr. Marie Christine Aubry, all
working for the Mayo Clinic, paved the way for the charity waiver obtained
from the Clinic. Dr. Abraham and Dr. Boyce were joint sponsors for the Mayo
Charity Care Waiver and both continued to be primarily involved with this
little boy. Dr. Aubry, who had journeyed to Honduras with one of the Gehlen
Mission Honduras Medical teams, actually introduced Illich's case to both
Dr. Roshini and Dr. Boyce. Eventually, the list of doctors that little
Illich had totaled over 16.
Illich came to the Mayo Clinic for evaluation of a 'presumed primary
immunodeficiency with failure to thrive' as well as treatment for 'premature
cataract development' and Illich was going blind. Once at the clinic the
team of doctors started to uncover many of the other issues that this little
boy suffered from. Illich was 23 months old when he entered the U.S. and
weighed only 11 pounds. The issue of his 'developmental delay with failure
to thrive' became the number one problem facing the Mayo staff.
Illich came to the Clinic and after endless discussion among the doctors, it
was concluded Illich did not have a primary immunodeficiency disorder. They
determined his numerous infections were most likely the result of his
failure to thrive and a weakened immune system. They determined this issue
would be treatable with life-long antibiotics. But this alone did not solve
his failure to thrive issues. Many more weeks of office visits and testing
of various kinds would eventually unravel some of this little boy's
results of his tests showed that
Illich suffers from a very rare genetic disorder known as 'trichothyodystrophy(TTD).'
There is no known cure for this illness. Dr. Abraham called this case
'complex.' Besides the numerous doctors at the Mayo Clinic who puzzled over
Illich, his case was also shared with an immunodeficiency expert from the
United Kingdom. All sorts of other rare immunodeficiencies were contemplated
to cover the constellation of clinical features Illich presented, but
ultimately these were eliminated in favor of the likely diagnosis of TTD.
In spite of this genetic disorder, his immune deficiency, his original
blindness, a swallow problem, and a number of other ill health issues,
Illich had, nonetheless, put on some weight while in Rochester (He
weighed about 13 pounds on his last day at the clinic.), and seemed to have gotten considerably stronger.
"I think the general feeling is that Illich can live, he can grow up,
he can improve with time and care, and have some semblance of a good life.
Time will tell on all of this," commented Seivert.
November and early December, 2007, Illich had successful surgery on his eyes. He
did develop an infection during one of these surgeries and was hospitalized
for three days in St. Mary's Hospital. The doctors and nursing staff at St.
Mary's did a wonderful job with him. His sight was immediately better, and a
special pair of glasses was ordered for this little boy. The glasses
eventually arrived a week before he returned to Honduras.
Seivert, director of Mission Honduras LeMars, was with Illich and his family
on December 23rd and 24th and commented "how special it was for everyone
that this little boy could see again. What a great job Dr. Michael Brodsky
and his staff did with Illich and his eyes."
the last few weeks, while under the care of Mayo doctors, nurses,
therapists, and staff, in dozens of appointments with various doctors and
researchers. From infectious diseases specialists, dermatologists,
neurologists, gastroenterologists, dieticians, to geneticists, Illich had
somewhere around 55 appointments during his almost 10-week stay in
Rochester. Richard Seivert said, "He had every kind of test you could
possibly imagine, and every doctor, nurse, therapist, translator, and
researcher he came into contact with simply fell in love with this very sick
little boy. A few weeks ago I commented that Illich was in the best place in
the world to save his life. I now know that to be true. The compassion for
this little boy, beginning with Dr. Roshini Sarah Abraham and Dr. Tom Boyce,
right through to every doctor, nurse, technician, and translator, was
absolutely amazing. It is no wonder the Mayo Clinic has the reputation it
going back to Honduras, Illich's parents were instructed in many ways to
improve the condition of their son's life. Although his illness is
incurable, medications, many forms of therapy, and improved dietary intake
should help him to grow up. Mission Honduras LeMars will continue to track
Illich's progress and assist him in any way possible.
Richard Seivert commented, "We know
it is a life-long process for this little boy, his parents, and his extended
family. They seem to be a very loving and devoted young family to this
little boy; they have great faith in God, and great faith in the Mayo
Clinic. If someday we must bring this little fellow back to the Mayo Clinic,
God willing, we will."
purpose of human life is to show compassion and the will to help
human anywhere will blossom in a hundred different talents and
capacities simply by being given the opportunity
to do so.
~ Doris Lessing
Dr. Abraham commented, "His family support and
structure seems to be excellent, and his parents have been educated in the
best way to provide care for him. However, the critical element for his
survival was making the right diagnosis. This has enabled the doctors and
staff at the Mayo Clinic to offer the right advice, make the correct
recommendations, and develop a treatment plan tailored for Illich's unique
noted, "One place on the internet I was searching said there are only 15
known cases of 'trichothyodystrophy' in the world. In the last two weeks
Illich was under testing at the Mayo Clinic, many doctors and
specialists were involved in seeing this rare disorder - many seeing it for
the first time. Dr. Abraham said, "Yes, I think this may have been the first
case of TTD seen and diagnosed at Mayo." She went on to say "intense
physiotherapy, occupational therapy and improved dietary intake and feeding
are key to Illich's survival and growth."
Honduras LeMars would like to thank all of those who have supported this
effort, especially all the medical people at the Mayo Clinic and St. Mary's
Mayo Eugenio Litta Children's Hospital, specifically Dr. Roshini Sarah
Abraham, Dr. Tom Boyce, Francis Seivert, and Mark Kellen.
Seivert, director of Mission Honduras LeMars said, "As a high school teacher
I sometimes put the following at the end of tests: The
End...or...Maybe the Beginning
Let us all
hope that the time Illich and his parents spent at the Mayo Clinic is the
beginning of a long life for one little boy from Honduras."