Villa La Paz Newsletter September 2017

Her name was Lucianita, a name probably derived from the Spanish word luz, which means light. She was three months old and weighed only 4 ½ pounds. She was severely malnourished and presented many malformations: fingers bent outwards; bilateral inguinal hernias; facial paralysis; malformed ears with no external openings; a heart murmur. She had received no medical care as she was from a very poor and remote area that had no medical facilities. Her mother took her to a convent in a village near her home and the nuns called us and asked us to receive her and furnish her with medical care. Her mother brought her to our home and seemed tired and resigned but thankful that her daughter would receive care. She was admitted and several days later was taken to the genetics department at the children’s hospital. The clinical diagnosis was trisomy 18, a chromosomal disorder. Each chromosome has a pair so that there are 2 number 1 chromosomes, 2 number 2 chromosomes, etc. In total there are 46 chromosomes. In trisomy 18 there are three number 18 chromosomes instead of two and the extra genetic material causes the malformations seen in infants with trisomy 18. Plans were made to do a formal chromosome study in three weeks to confirm the diagnosis of trisomy 18. We began feeding her with a special formula for premature infants which furnished her with more calories and nutrients. We started very slowly since refeeding a severely malnourished infant too quickly can result in death. She tolerated the feedings well and began to gain weight and became more active. Infants with trisomy 18 have short life spans but we forged ahead with plans to correct some of the malformations to improve her quality of life. However, two weeks after she was admitted she suddenly died. The parents were notified and came to see her. Everyone in the home attended the wake and a tiny coffin and burial gown were purchased. Since bodies by law cannot be transported across provincial lines, she was buried the following day in our village cemetary, very far from her home village.

Lucianita’s life was very short but knew no emotional pain, no sadness, no anguish and none of the other negative aspects of life that we all experience and struggle with, so in that way she was blessed. Her soul was pure and unstained and had direct access to heaven, never having known anger, envy, pride or the other faults we are so subject to. In that way she was also blessed. She was lent to us for awhile to teach us compassion and to help us see through our false self, which concerns our ego and our own needs and desires, to our true self, who we are in God, in which our ego is sublimated, love for others comes to the fore and we are concerned with the needs and desires of others. We had student volunteers from a high school in New York and the students treated her with the utmost love and respect and took turns holding her. For them she was a gift, a manifestation of God’s tender love for His most vulnerable and weak children.

The great mystery of the Incarnation is that God became human in Jesus so that all human flesh could be clothed with divine life. Our lives are fragile and destined to death. But since God, through Jesus, shared in our fragile and mortal lives, death no longer has the final word. Life has become victorious. Paul writes: “And after this perishable nature has put on imperishability and this mortal nature has put on immortality, then will the words of scripture come true: “Death is swallowed up in victory. Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:54). Jesus has taken away the fatality of our existence and has given our lives eternal value.
Henri J.M. Nouwen

This life is certainly full of sadness and tears…But there is a fatherland on high, the home of our heavenly Father. In that land there will be no tears, no separation; there we shall be forever with those we love.
Blessed Columba Marmion

Our sincere gratitude for your support of our children. We love you and wish you God’s peace.

Alexis – Clubbed Feet

Alexis
Clubbed Feet

Brandon – Brittle Bone Disease

Brandon
Brittle Bone Disease

Luis – Clubbed Feet

Luis
Clubbed Feet

Maria – Chronic Renal Failure

Maria
Chronic Renal Failure

Lucianita and Student Volunteer

Lucianita and Student Volunteer

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