Giovanna’s story is tragic, but needs to be told as there are others like her; other children who need Esperança’s volunteer surgeons to save them from her fate – amputation.
Seventeen year-old Giovanna lives in Tarija, Bolivia. She is excited about her future and wants to be a teacher when she grows up. She has one obstacle standing in her way…a cancerous tumor on her right leg. Her family is poor and unable to afford surgery that would save her leg. Without it, her leg will be amputated from the thigh down.
Giovanna with her parents
On a recent Esperança surgical mission in February, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Raymond Sachs and his team performed 45 surgeries during a week’s mission. Giovanna’s parents brought her late in the week to see if Dr. Sachs could help her with the growing tumor. X-rays were taken and her case was analyzed by the team. They all agreed that yes, they could save her leg. However, it couldn’t happen during this mission because there wasn’t enough time or specialized equipment to be able to perform the complex surgery. Esperança had hoped to send Dr. Sachs back in time to save her leg. However, Giovanna’s family couldn’t wait and has made the decision to go forward with an amputation, fearing the cancer might spread. One can certainly understand their decision but it underscores the tremendous need for our doctors.
Dr. Sachs is willing to return this summer to operate on other patients with urgent needs like Giovanna. It is only a matter of Esperança having the additional $7,000 to send him. This amount is needed to cover our local staff, medications, local transportation costs, clinic facility costs, and lodging and meals for the volunteers. Please consider what you can do to help prevent another child like Giovanna from losing a limb.