Dominican 2 year-old with a damaged esophagus in desperate need of surgery

(Miami, July 25, 2007) – In December of 2005, Grennys Patricia Grullón was a happy, healthy 1-year-old who began to lose her appetite. In order to stimulate her desire for food, her mother decided to buy vitamins from an authorized, trusted salesperson and gave the child half a spoonful of the liquid. The child immediately suffered burns in her esophagus because the bottle was incorrectly labeled and actually contained sodium hydroxide; a corrosive liquid which if ingested could be fatal.

Since the incident, Grennys Patricia has not been able to eat on her own and is fed through a tube in her stomach; she also suffers from constant coughing and must sleep in an upright position in order not to choke on her own drool. The International Kids Fund (IKF) is calling upon the community for help in raising $30,000 for the toddler’s procedure. “It is a very tragic accident that has changed the life of this child and her family forever. With the generosity of the community we can help ease the suffering they have been through for more than a year,” said María Luisa Chea, executive director of the IKF.

Grennys Patricia needs to undergo an esophagectomy with an esophageal replacement, in which doctors will pull up into the chest a part of the stomach or colon to replace the damaged esophagus and connect it to the remaining healthy portion. “If she does not undergo this surgery she will never be able to eat or drink on her own, she will suffer from frequent pneumonia caused by the constant drool she produces which fills up her mouth and spills over to her lungs,” said Dr. Raleigh Thompson, Associate Professor and Chief of Pediatric Surgery, University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center.

Upon drinking the liquid, Grennys Patricia was taken to a hospital specializing in gastroenterology where they provided her emergency assistance. Then she was transferred to a children’s hospital in Santo Domingo, where she underwent two gastrostomies in which a tube was inserted in her stomach so she could be fed.

Since the hospital had limited resources and due to the risky nature of the procedure the child’s physicians recommended that the parents seek medical assistance in the U.S. or in Europe where the operation is performed. The child’s father began to research online and finally came across the IKF.

“I want the surgery to be a success and return to my country with a healthy, normal child that someday will be able to eat normally, who can eat pizza or plantains. I know that God has a great purpose for my daughter and I ask for the community’s contributions to help us come out of this terrible nightmare,” said Grennys Castillo, mother of the 2-year-old.

Grennys parents are currently unemployed and can not afford the costly operation. The child lives with her parents and two older siblings in Sabana Perdida, a poor area located about 40 minutes from the center of Santo Domingo. Because the toddler is not a U.S. resident, the public hospital cannot use taxpayers’ money to pay for her treatment. Instead, it is being offered to the IKF at charitable rates. The IKF is a program of the Jackson Memorial Foundation that seeks to provide medical care to needy children from around the world who suffer from serious illnesses that cannot be treated in their home countries.

The IKF’s campaign on behalf of Grennys Patricia was launched today during a news conference at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center. Present were Grennys Patricia and her mother Grennys Castillo, Dr. Thompson, Dr. Holly Neville and María Luisa Chea.