of the month

By Rich Petersen

Osvaldo Padilla Contreras


child-feb11This beautiful smile belongs to Osvaldo Padilla Contreras, now 15 years of age. I wrote about Osvaldo three years ago and thought you might want to read a little update on him. Osvaldo lives with his mother, Yolanda, and older brother, Juan Luis, age 18. Osvaldo’s father left the family shortly after he was born and Yolanda has had to be both Mom and Dad to both her sons.

Osvaldo was born perfectly normal but at the age of three months, he aspirated some of his formula and went into respiratory failure. At the Hospital Civil, he was put on a respirator and recovered consciousness, but so much time had passed without oxygen to his brain that he was in a vegetative state, and the medical staff was not optimistic about his chances for survival. To make matters worse, Osvaldo then suffered three more respiratory failures and then three cardiac arrests; each time he was resuscitated but had to be hospitalized for six months while the doctors monitored him.

With each of these episodes, the little boy’s chances of survival grew more slim. Then he began to have convulsions so surgery was recommended even though there was only a 50-50 chance of recovery. Miracles do seem to happen, however, and following the surgery Osvaldo had no more convulsions and was able to be discharged home, albeit with a diagnosis of cerebral paralysis and with the added complication that his muscles would not relax normally. His mother says his arms and legs were “straight as a board.”

As you can see from the photo taken at the last monthly meeting of Niños Incapacitados, Osvaldo is confined to a wheelchair. From the outset, his mother began therapy for the boy, first at DIF, then with a private therapist, and currently at the Teletón Foundation of Mexico in Guadalajara. Several years ago one of the therapists at Teletón heard of a new use for the drug Botox, not for cosmetic enhancement but rather, in cases such as Osvaldo’s, to help relax the muscles.

This is when Yolanda first came to Niños Incapacitados for help with the cost of this injection, which was at that time still rather “experimental.” It was decided to take a chance with this new therapy and Osvaldo was given the Botox injection. Again, he responded positively. His muscles became much more relaxed and supple, and while he still has little muscle control, he is able to wave and gesture.

In spite of all his problems, Osvaldo is one of the happiest children around. He smiles almost constantly, loves to interact with his family, and enjoys visiting his neighbors and watching TV. It seems that being around people is what pleases him most. Mom says he loves to listen to music and to try to sing along, but only happy music. He doesn’t like sad songs or “romantic” ones. He is an avid Chivas fan and loves to watch their soccer matches on television.

With the love and care of his family, Osvaldo has overcome many obstacles in his short life, and Niños Incapacitados is happy to be able to help. His therapy sessions are ongoing, and his mother states he has made wonderful progress in the past few years. This was evident at the meeting when he was given a new football cap and exclaimed loudly and flashed his wonderful smile.

Niños Incapacitados meets the second Thursday of each month at 10:00 in one of the meeting rooms of the Hotel Real de Chapala in La Floresta. Please join us—and bring a friend—to learn more about what we do and to meet other children we are assisting. Also, see our website at Again, a big thank-you to all who have joined our “Sustaining Niños” Pledge Program. We are at 50% of our goal of one million pesos. More information on how you can contribute can be found on our website.

Remember—March 3 is the date of our annual major fundraiser, this year a “Spring Fling” with dinner and dancing, at the Hotel Real de Chapala. Dress up! Put on your dancing shoes! And come help us celebrate another year of helping chronically ill children at Lakeside.



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