UPDATE: NewsChannel 5 is told that 3-year-old Manuel Alejandro is doing "well" after life-saving heart valve surgery in Memphis.
---------------------------- ORIGINAL STORY:
A group of volunteers is working tireless to help the people of Cuba.
One Cuban family and the people who are working to help them are living to embrace that message (the pope’s message of Christian faith and service) and they need to do so if a little boy’s life is to go on.
Good cuban food and fellowship fills this Habana apartment. Everyone at this table is praying for a miracle. Three year old Manuel Alejandro needs one.
“Since he was born, every doctor says that he could die any moment, and he is great”, said his mother.
A live barely begun and already Alejandro on borrowed time. Manuel was born with a rare pulmonary valve syndrome. His heart cannot pump enough oxygen through his body. He needs a new heart valve.
Manuel’s mother Yamira Hernández, is herself a doctor is Habana. A neuro opthalmologist by training
“It is hard to have a son with this condition. It is even more hard that being a doctor I cannot do anything for my child”.
And that is where this dinner company she and her husband Luis are hosting comes in.
Red Rodriguez is president of the International Children’s Heart Foundation based in Memphis, Tennessee.
“I was the gringo Cubano of the family. Rodriguez family tree from Cuba includes grandfather Emilio Bacardi, who founded Bacardi rum. He and his board of directors came to Habana to listen to the Pope Francis and to reach out to this family.
“It is saving one child at a time," said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez says the foundation sends teams of doctors and nurses across the world to aid in pediatric cardiotheracic surgeries. In this case, surgery cannot be done in Cuba. So, the foundation wants to enlist Miami or Memphis surgeons
“Whether we bring the child to Miami or into Memphis where we are located, we can oversee to make sure the child has the surgery at no cost to the family or the patients.
The outreach would be the answer to a mother’s most fervent prayer.
“I believe in God.”
Rodriguez and his team say they can do no less if they are to going to heed the call to service made by Pope Francis.
“Pope Francis’ word and message was, is to define and cultivate the generations of Cubans to come”, said Rodriguez.
And so this family hopes and prays that the kindness of strangers turn friends might lift their shadow of despair and give their little boy new life.