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Healing the Children

Jonas from the Dominican Republic

Jonas with host mom Ann Brown

Jonas Roa came to Healing the Children Rocky Mountains in July 2015. He first was found and identified as a potential inbound child when he attended an ENT clinic HTC New Jersey held in the Dominican Republic in October 2014. Jonas drank lye in a household accident when he was one. 3 years later he still could not eat or drink because his esophagus was scarred from his throat to his stomach. He had been receiving nutrition through his GI feeding tube in his stomach for 3 years.

HTCNJ contacted HTCRM for help finding a surgeon and hospital that could help the child. Contact was made with Dr. Fritz Karrer at the Children's Hospital Colorado and Jonas made the long trip to Colorado. Jonas lived with Ann and Ryan Brown, directors of the Rocky Mountain chapter, and their two small kids who were 6 and 3. Jonas quickly fell into a routine and found his place right between the two children. They were like 3 peas in a pod.

Jonas in Colorado
Host families provide a loving, supportive environment for children during treatment.

Jonas had surgery on August 20, 2015. His 6 hour surgery went perfectly. The surgeon was able to remove the scarred esophagus, and used Jonas' stomach to create a new esophagus for him. Jonas stayed in the hospital for 15 days, which were not without complications, but for the most part he healed quickly and well.

On post-op day #13 Jonas took his first drink in 3 years. It was a delight to witness the miracle of modern medicine at work. He loved apple juice and BBQ sauce the most. Jonas spent the next 3 months in intensive (2x wk) swallow therapy where they taught him how to manage volume of food in his mouth, textures and swallowing, all are natural skills a young child learns when all their body parts work. He soared through therapy and quickly began to eat everything in sight. Favorite foods include Pringles, coleslaw, and popsicles.

Jonas returned home to the Dominican Republic at the beginning of December. We were sad to see him go, but so happy to have been a part of his medical transformation.

tube feeding drinking juice
Jonas eating through a GI feeding tube. Drinking for the first time in 3 years.

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