Stories of Hope

Marialinda Story

Marialinda is a 10 year old girl from a very poverty-stricken, rural area of Guatemala. Since birth, she has suffered from “blood red” eyes, eye pain, visible “clumps” in both of her eyes, poor vision, and extremely low self-esteem due to bullying she encountered in school because of her eye condition. She would not make eye contact with anyone and constantly looked down at the ground to avoid people seeing her eyes. Her family was told by a doctor there that he did not know what was wrong with her eyes and there was nothing that could be done. She would likely go blind at some point in her life.

By God’s grace, a short-term missions team to Guatemala, led by Dr. Dawn Jones and Mary Duren, RN, was made aware of Marialinda’s condition. Upon returning to the United States, Dr. Dawn Jones informed Compassion Medicine about Marialinda’s condition. Compassion Medicine arranged for the girl to be evaluated by Dr. Bert Bowden, an eye surgeon from the states, who diagnosed her as having small tumors in both of her eyes that could lead to blindness but if treated soon, her condition could be totally correctable. Dr. Bowden generously offered to treat Marialinda if someone could get her to the states for treatment.

Compassion Medicine worked with the U.S. Embassy to secure VISA’s for Marialinda and a family member and then coordinated all travel logistics to get them to the states. Representatives from Compassion Medicine worked with Dr. Bowden’s office to secure a surgery date and then accompanied Marialinda to her surgery and ensured all other needs were met such as transportation, food, and lodging. Dr. Bowden and the hospital staff were ready for Marialinda and the surgery was a great success. Dr. Bowden commented that the surgery went much easier than he anticipated and that he felt God’s presence throughout the procedure and it was God’s help that made it a success.

Within a few days following surgery, Marialinda was seeing clearly and was totally without pain. She saw her “new” eyes in the mirror and immediately had a smile on her face and made eye contact with everyone around her for the first time that any of her family can recall. No more tumors, no more pain, and improved vision and self-esteem! Over the course of the next four to six weeks, her eyes continued to heal from the surgery and she is now a very happy, playful girl with eyes that appear normal and function normally. Her parents expressed their gratitude by shedding many tears and saying “We thank you and God so much and are overwhelmed that someone that doesn’t even know us would help our little girl. May God bless you and what you are doing to help people.”

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