HAVANA TIMES — Jenris Alvarez is a Cuban who’s lived in Spain with Ana Acevedo for years. Nineteen months ago, Jenris and Ana had Dailyn, a baby who, despite having been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, has one of the most beautiful smiles I have ever seen.
The child has been receiving medical treatment in Spain for a year, but only three times a week, in short, 35-minute sessions. The doctors aren’t very optimistic about how much they can do for her. This is why her parents have decided to travel to Cuba “in search of a second opinion.”
“Cuba’s medical system is as good as Spain’s,” Ana says, telling us her child has already been seen at a pediatric hospital, where they confirmed the diagnosis and treatment recommended in her country. Now, they’re going to treat her at a much more specialized hospital.
“We’re not going to throw in the towel, we’re going to keep looking for options,” Ana tells us, adding that they’re also planning on seeing a healer who allegedly cures people with the energy of his hands. “We’re after a miracle. We haven’t lost hope or faith and we’re going to try everything to help our little girl.”
Solidarity in Spain
The couple was able to travel to Cuba thanks to the help of their neighbors, who cooked an enormous amount of paella and, on the 10th of last month, held a charity dinner to raise funds,” Jenris tells us, visibly moved.
“I hadn’t expected anything like that. In the middle of the charity, I was so moved I started to cry,” Jenris recalls, proud that all his neighbors say hello to Dailyn on the street. “She’s got a very pretty smile, see, and never stops smiling.”
Ana says she “had expected that reaction from my neighbors, but I was still surprised more people than we’d expected showed up, almost 1,000 people from around Caceres went to the charity dinner to pitch in what they could for Dailyn.”
“With the money raised, we’ve been able to travel down here and get by, but we’ve put away part of the money in case she needs to see a doctor, or to buy medicine or anything.” All specialists, however, agree that what the child needs most is physiotherapy, exercise and stimulation.
The couple are staying at Henris’ mother’s, a humble home in Havana. There, they have relied on the support of people as eager to help as those in Caceres, who take the child to different specialists, pray for her, consult Santeria practitioners and book appointments with natural healers.
The child has motor complications: she has very little control over the right side of her torso and is unable to speak. “Spain’s medical system is very good, but I’m Cuban and I am looking everywhere for a cure for my child,” the father tells us, adding that “we’ll stay here as many months as we need to, even if I have to start selling popsicles to get by.”
Cuban doctors have a fair amount of experience in cases such as this one. Some years ago, a child from Venice, Italy, experienced significant improvement after a few months of treatment at the Julio Diaz hospital, which included several hours of therapy every day.
Doctors work in multidisciplinary teams that include pediatricians, psychologists, physiotherapists, neurologists and any other specialist who may be required during the rehabilitation process. These specialists work to activate parts of the brain that aren’t normally used, so that they may substitute the affected areas.
A foreigner is charged around US $ 4,000 a month for such treatment, but Daiylin’s father is Cuban and, as such, she has Cuban nationality. This affords her access to the country’s public health system, that is to say, she is entitled to treatment free of charge. This is of the essence, as Ana is currently unemployed and her husband has work only some months of the year.