Meet Marcelo

Marcelo’s Journey: Crossing Borders for Lifesaving Orthopedic Care and Hope

Marcelo and his mother, Gabriela, started their journey to Shriners Children’s in Chihuahua, Mexico. Marcelo was diagnosed with bilateral cavovarus feet, which means that he has very high arches in both of his feet, leading to him walk on the insides of his feet. Searching for a solution, Marcelo and Gabriela were encouraged by their local doctor in Mexico to contact Shriners Children’s Mexico City, and they were later referred to Shriners Children’s Portland due to their proximity to the United States.

In Mexico City, the family was told about Kathryn Fuchs, M.D. at the Portland hospital and her work in orthopedics. Prior to coming to Shriners Children’s, Marcelo and his family had been offered many options, but they continued to hunt for less invasive solutions that didn’t involve intensive surgery.

After being put in contact with the family, Dr. Fuchs communicated findings of the best options for Marcelo – which was to get him to Shriners Children’s Portland for a surgery to reconstruct his feet. Now it was time to figure out how to get Marcelo and his family to Oregon.

Leading up to his surgery in Portland, Marcelo and his family were in constant touch with the teams at Shriners Children’s Portland and Shriners Children’s Salt Lake City. Arrangements for travel were made, and pre-op appointments were completed with Dr. Fuchs over video chat. With the help of generous donations from Shriners, Shriners Children’s patients are able to receive transportation and housing assistance during their care. In Marcelo’s case, travelling to Portland would be a huge financial burden. “If I had to pay for the surgery and travel, I would have had to sell my house,” Gabriela said. “You would do anything for your child.” Shriners Children’s makes sure that no family has to sacrifice their livelihood for access to the best orthopedic care.

Once Marcelo and his family stepped foot into Shriners Children’s Portland, they knew that they were in good hands. Dr. Fuchs orchestrated a successful surgery with the help of a team of specialized surgeons, and Marcelo is set to recover seamlessly. Part of his journey was spent with the Portland Care Management team and medical interpreters. These individuals assured Marcelo and Gabriela that they were going to be in the best care possible. “Marcelo was always smiling and upbeat,” care manager Catherine Wells said. “His mother Gabriela was positive throughout the entire process and very attentive to Marcelo’s needs. The family was able to return to Portland six weeks later for a Post-Operative follow-up and physical therapy appointments. As a result, Marcelo is doing well in his recovery.”

Another part of his journey was making his way down to the Rehabilitation department where he worked with physical and occupational therapists post-surgery. When asked about exciting post-surgery plans, Marcelo explained that he was eager to get back in the gym and that he wants to buy a pair of cowboy boots.

This surgery would not have been possible without the collaboration between various Shriners Children’s locations, the kindness of providers like Dr. Fuchs, and generous donations. No matter the case, Shriners Children’s sets out to deliver the best care to each patient. The expansion of helping patients across borders just emphasizes that mission. In the words of Gabriela, “This is not just any hospital. The people who work here have hearts of gold – this place is priceless.”  

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