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a land renowned for its revolutionaries, a handful of UCLA-led doctors
may be waging the most critical battle for the hearts of a new generation
of Peruvian poor
Photography by Marilyn Young
young mother is frantic as she pushes through the doors of the emergency
room on a chilly, gray morning, cradling a tiny baby in her arms.
She looks to be in her early 20s, but a hardscrabble life of poverty
on the streets of this capital city has added many more years to
her features. She has little comprehension of what is wrong with
her child, just that he is desperately sick.
infant, a black-haired, brown-eyed boy just a few weeks old, is
conscious but listless, an emaciated, sad skeleton swaddled in loose
skin, his rib cage clearly visible, a sharp outline under the shell
of his body. He struggles for air, his breaths coming in short,
was born with pulmonary atresia -- the vessels to ferry the blood
from his heart to his lungs had not formed -- and the small duct
present at his birth that had been keeping him alive by allowing
some blood exchange is closing. His blood-oxygen levels, which in
a normal individual would be at or near 100, have dropped into the
30s; his tiny body is starving for oxygen, giving his skin and lips
a mottled bluish cast.
this been UCLA Medical Center or any other large hospital in the
United States, the baby would stand a good chance of surviving.
could have saved him," Dr. Juan Carlos Alejos says sadly. "If we
had had the right medicine, we could have stabilized him enough
to get him to surgery to fix the problem."
could have saved his life."
this isn't a hospital in the U.S.; this is more than 4,000 miles
from Los Angeles, in the heart of Lima, Peru.