Young Cuban expat family needs your help to care for their four-year-old son

Feb 7, 2018 | 11 comments

(Reposted from Social Media)

The lovely Milena Lopez joined her father in Cuenca from Cuba in 2011 and quickly found her niche working in sales. At a social gathering in the Cuban expat community of Cuenca, she met Frank Gonzales, a handsome, hardworking waiter, who emigrated in 2012 from the oppressive Cuban government to create a better future.

Milena Lopez, Frank Gonzales and their son Frank Angelo.

They fell in love and decided to build a life together.The hard work was paying off and the dream of starting their own family and business was becoming more concrete when complications with Milena’s pregnancy would forever change the course of their lives.

Frank Angelo’s difficult life began on Valentine’s Day 2014. Delivered via caesarean section at 32 weeks due to placental insufficiency, his 2-pound birth weight presented myriad challenges for him and his parents. Forty-eight hours after his birth, while being fed by hospital staff, Frank Angelo suffered a stroke after which he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

His premature delivery required full time oxygen for his first year. His inability to swallow, along with his diminished lung capacity causes him to aspirate both food and liquids, requiring extended hospital stays due to bouts with pneumonia – five so far. A panel of doctors determined that in order to save Frank Angelo’s life and curb future pneumonias, a gastric feeding tube would need be inserted. Since there were no gastric buttons to be found in Ecuador, they fashioned one using a urinary catheter. Because the tube was not stable, it created problems from the beginning with irritation and infections at the insertion site. Despite continuous efforts to encourage oral intake of food at home, he remains unable to swallow at age 4.

Since June, 2016 Frank Angelo has been fed via gastric buttons purchased and “muled” by friends, acquaintances, and family of friends traveling to Ecuador because U.S. companies do not ship them internationally. Another complication arose recently, Frank Angelo has been diagnosed with 100% hearing loss in his right ear, and 95% in his left.

His physical disabilities: hyper-spasticity, complete lack of motor skills, inability to hold his head up, or control his movements, along with his recent hearing impairment diagnosis, make it difficult to measure his cognitive abilities.The Ecuadorian social services system is unable to provide the full-time care that F.A. requires. Currently, his grandmother from Cuba, is providing daytime care while his parents work full time and his mom Milena goes to evening classes studying physical therapy.

Frank Angelo’s parents have braved this challenge on their own for the past four years. But, it is more than they can handle financially and need more assistance. Frank and Milena’s combined income of $720 per month is not nearly enough to provide Frank Angelo with the needed care,

Some “Friends of Franks” (FOF) have created a GoFundMe to raise funds for cochlear implants, future surgeries to relieve spasticity, full-time home care or 24- hour care in the proper facility if necessary. They are asking help to help launch the GoFundMe and to spread the word about the needs of this beautiful little boy.

To help raise money for Frank Angelo’s care, there is a “Friends of Frank” Valentine’s Day Fundraiser, Wednesday, February 14, 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the GO Hostal, Presidente Borrero 5-47 at Honorato Vasquez. If you are able to attend, please RSVP to albchabot@gmail.com.

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