Peruvian siblings, Frank and Tatiana both born with club feet, were brought to the U.S. for medical attention and recovery with the assistance of The Luz Fund.
By Kristen Morrell
A phone call from the hospital can be dreadful and scary. But when Chuck Mulhern, of Brandon, received a hospital call one week before Christmas, it was the greatest gift imaginable.
The call from Shriners Hospital informed Mulhern that two children from Juanjui, Peru, who were born with bilateral club feet and needed U.S. medical attention, had been accepted as outpatients.
It was a huge relief for Frank, 12, Tatiana, 5, and Mulhern, who was supporting the children with his foundation, The Luz Fund.
The foundation, which Mulhern started in 2009, provides support to low income children and families from developing countries seeking medical intervention in the U.S.
“During our October 2011 medical mission, which included several local Brandon healthcare specialists, we were requested to visit a poor family living in a barrio on the outskirts of the small town of Juanjui,” Mulhern said.
It was in Juanji that Mulhern and his team met Frank and Tatiana. Once they realized the children needed unavailable follow-up care, Mulhern decided his foundation could help. Frank and Tatiana could get to the U.S. and receive care with assistance from The Luz Fund.
However, they first needed to overcome many obstacles. The children would need visas provided by the U.S. embassy, a minimum of $5,000 for travel, a temporary home where they could recover and three plane tickets for themselves and their mother, Flor. They would also need to be accepted as outpatients at a U.S. hospital.
“It was a struggle and at times it seemed as though we would fail,” Mulhern said. “But with persistence and many prayers, it all came together and they are here.”
Both children have had surgery and are now recovering in the home of Sam and Barbara Kroll, of Dover. The couple decided to take the children in after seeing Mulhern’s post in their church bulletin asking for a temporary home.
“We saw the picture of the children and thought, ‘we could do that,’” Barbara said. “Our house is very accessible for wheelchairs and the kids are easily able to scoot around.”
Mulhern said the children have a long road of rehabilitation ahead of them and will have to relearn to walk. In the meantime, they are scooting around in wheelchairs, playing video games and experiencing life in America.
“But they are very anxious for their return to their families,” he said. “They miss papa and the rest of their siblings.”
Frank and Tatiana are two of many children the Luz Fund has helped and would like to help in the future.
“There are always those in need. We will do what we can, where we can,” Mulhern said. “How can we do less?”
To get involved, call 215-0071 or e-mail TheLuzFund@verizon.net. The team goes on medical missions in June and in October each year. Direct Deposits to the foundation are also accepted at PNC Bank, located at 821 E. Bloomingdale Ave. in Brandon.