By Jessica Brodie
Healing Guatemala—a United Methodist medical mission in Guatemala that is connected with the South Carolina Conference—is taking a huge leap of faith this winter in the hopes of saving a young girl’s life.
Dulce, age 10, is living with a grave disease called fanconi anemia, a rare genetic bone marrow disorder that is a form of aplastic anemia and carries a grim prognosis.
Dr. Luke Rhyee, the South Carolina United Methodist pastor who leads Healing Guatemala, got to know Dulce and her family through Healing Guatemala. The organization is a medical mission and clinic that offers ophthalmology, dental care and basic medical needs, both at the clinic and in rural communities in the Chuisajcaba, Guatemala, region.
Rhyee said someone with fanconi anemia typically dies at an early age if he or she does not get treatment, and the only treatment of the disease is a bone marrow transplant.
However, Guatemala does not have a hospital that can perform a bone marrow transplant for Dulce, so she will need to travel to the United States or South Korea for the procedure—a huge financial undertaking.
Healing Guatemala was able to find a hospital in South Korea, JeonNam National University Hospital in HwaSun, that has agreed to help financially and do the procedure, but the steep cost isn’t something they can cover alone, even though the cost of the treatment in South Korea is about a third of that in the United States.
Because Dulce’s condition is worsening rapidly, Rhyee and others at Healing Guatemala decided it was time for a faith leap.
After all, Rhyee said, “Our Lord is faithful.”
Given this, they are doing whatever they can to raise $100,000 for Dulce’s treatment, starting a GoFundMe campaign and raising funds through other means to help the young girl.
Rhyee visited Dulce recently, and he said her condition looks much worse compared to a month ago, when he saw her last. A kindhearted girl with a bright smile and excellent math skills, she’s hurting intensely.
“Dulce has severe pain in the bones of her back and extremities, and her face looks much darker,” he said.
She lives day-to-day, getting a whole blood transfusion every month.
“Her time does not seem to wait for her,” Rhyee said.
This is why they are beginning the “A New Life for Dulce” project now. All funds will support the cost of treatment and travel expense of Dulce, apart from the support of the hospital performing the procedure.
“We pray that at least by the end of December, Dulce can begin treatment,” Rhyee said.