Stories From The Frontier
Check out Bladimir's news reports
Bladimir wants to be a plastic surgeon someday. It seems he wants to be in a profession where he can help others like himself. His proficiency with mathematics and foreign language (English) should help him in this pursuit. Right now though, Bladimir likes football but cannot play. He stays home much of the time because his travels to town invariably lead to taunting from other children and curiosity about his appearance.
October 13, 2009
Bladimir has returned to Venezuela after completing all of his surgery in the United States..
May 30, 2009
Bladimir has returned to Miami to complete his treatment. The folks at International Kid's Fund say that he has gained weight from eating Colombian food for the last month. He will be in Miami for six weeks for the final dental treatment phase of his reconstruction. His first appointment is next Monday.
April 25, 2009
Bladimir and his mother Aydee leave for Medellin, Colombia tomorrow. Aydee will continue on to her home in Venezuela shortly therafter. Bladimir will remain in Medellin for several weeks then return to Miami for four weeks of dental treatment.
April 25, 2009
The Department of Homeland Security has denied our request to extend Bladimir's visa to the end of July. the final determination is that Bladimir and his mother must return to Venezuela by the end of April.
February 5, 2009
The International Kids Fund is exploring possibilities for an ocular plastic surgeon to repair the location of his right eye socket and eye placement. Andean Aid is currently working on a new visa extension for Bladimir and his mom. No one expected the treatment to take this long (a year and a half!) and the Department of Homeland Security is asking us for much more information than in the past.
December 14, 2008
Bladimir required yet another surgery on Thursday, December 11th. Drainage from his last surgery concerned doctos who decided to operate to ensure the draining area was clean and free of infection.
December 1, 2008
Bladimir is recuperating at Ronald Mcdonald House after his latest surgery. On Tuesday, November 25th his jawbone was reset and a piece of bone was removed from his left hip to complete his jaw reconstruction. He is on bed rest for the next three weeks and his teeth are wired shut. He can only walk short distances and will be on a diet of Ensure and milkshakes until the wires are removed. The doctors are monitoring him closely to ensure that infection does not undo their work this time.
November 18, 2008
Bladimir will be operated on Tuesday, November 25th to repair damage done by infection after his last surgery.
September 22, 2008
Dr. Gomez recommends that Bladimir's next surgery be delayed three months for him to heal and recover from previous operations. This may cause a problem in that International Kid's Fund cannot support him and his mother during this recuperation period. Returning to Venezuela is not an option because Bladimir may not be granted a visa to return, especially with the current relationship between the U.S. and Venezuela. Please pray that this problem is resolved soon so that Bladimir can complete his treatment.
Also pray that the current visa extension is approved and that the airline tickets can be changed without incurring a penalty.
September 14, 2008
Dr. Gomez has set Bladimir's repeat surgery for three weeks. Thankfully, the hip bone which had to be carefully cut to fit the jaw area can be reused. Please pray that this operation goes without a hitch. This young man has been through enough. His attitude throughout the ordeal has been splendid.
September 8, 2008
Bladimir is recuperating from surgery to undo the work done in surgery number four. The infection was very serious and doctors were concerned that it would spread to his eye. Currently the infection is under control with antibiotics and the doctors are pleased with his improvement. It's anticipated that they will try to redo the surgery to correct his jaw in the next month. Pray for Bladimir during this recovery time and that the next surgery will be a success.
August 23 Update
Bladimir has suffered the first major setback in his lengthy treatment. The bone that was removed from his hip and inserted in his jaw has become infected. Dr. Gomez will evaluate the situation on Friday, August 29th to determine if it will be necessary to remove the bone and redo the surgery. Please pray that the infection clears up before then so Bladimir will not need to endure yet another serious operation.
July 29 Update
Bladimir has received a fourth major surgery on July 24th. This surgery removed bone from his hip to repair previous work on the right mandible (jaw bone). The children at the Help and Hope Center were very interested in Bladimir's treatment and I was able to give them updates on my recent trip to Rubio.
April 20 Update
It has been a huge week for Bladimir. On Saturday, April 12th, he participated in a dinner where couples could hear a detailed version of his miraculous journey. Sunday, April 13th, he presented an encapsulated version of the story to the Chain of Lakes Community Bible Church along with Andean Aid President Wayne Cramer. Monday, April 14th, he headed back to Miami to participate as a guest speaker at an International Kid's Fund contributor luncheon on Wednesday, April 16th. All that and he was still able to return to Illinois on Thursday, April 17th, to celebrate his birthday with his mother.
Feliz cumpleaños Bladimir you are an inspiration to us all!
April 10 Update
Bladimir returns to Miami Monday, April 14th for an International Kid's Fund luncheon on April 16th. He will return to Illinois April 17th to celibrate his birthday with his mother. View two new videos of Bladimir enjoying his first time in the snow and congratulating Gaby Andrade our Help and Hope Center Director on her pregnancy.
April 3 Update
Bladimir and his mother Aydee have been in Illinois for six weeks now. I want to give a huge thank you to the Todd Kearney family for providing them not only accommodations but a home. They have truly become part of the family. Bladimir and Aydee have had several opportunities to share the testimony of their miraculous journey. There are several more opportunities to share before they return to Miami on May 7th.
Bladimir had plenty of opportunity to enjoy our long and snowy winter. It's quite a contrast to his home in Rubio where they had a record breaking cold temperature of 56 degrees Fahrenheit this winter. Please view the new photo gallery of Bladimir's Illinois visit.
March 4 Update
Bladimir is enjoying his stay in Illinois in spite of the arctic climate here. This past Saturday he and his mother Aydee tried their hand at sledding. The hills were great and the weather fairly warm. I had to drag him off the hill. Photos and video will follow soon.
February 11 Update
Bladimir and his mother Aydee arrive in Illinois for a three month stay to recuperate and help promote the work of Andean Aid. He is scheduled for a fifth surgery on his jaw sometime in May. He is also going to have dental implants installed and may have an additional surgery on his right eye.
December 14 Update
Bladimir is recovering from his fourth major surgery. Dr. Gomez needs to perform one more surgery on his jaw and install implants. Bladimir must recover for five months before this can be performed. The question for Andean Aid and International Kid's Fund is do we send him back to Venezuela or keep him here in the U.S.? Please pray that we are given wisdom in how to handle this situation.
October 24 Update
In the next several weeks Bladimir will undergo his third surgery. This operation will correct the placement of his right eye orbit and make some structural corrections to his nose and nasal passage. After that Dr. Gomez would like him to recover and heal for five or six months then return for teeth implants. The schedule for this is not set right now because many factors come into play including travel arrangements and visa extensions. If the five month healing process is necessary then most likely Bladimir and his mother will return to Venezuela. He will surely be a testament to God's power to work miracles and will be a witness to many.
October 9 Update - by Bladimir Gomez
The operation was a success and all went very well. The doctor (Jesus Gomez) reconstructed the jawbone and relocated it to the correct place and now my face looks different. Very different! My eye looks a little different but the next surgery will be for my eye. The recuperation took two weeks. I could not eat anything because I had wire in my teeth and I could not open my mouth. But now I can eat very well. I’m very happy and my mother is too. My cheekbone, my nose and my jaw look very good. Thank you everyone who has helped me.
September 18 Update
Bladimir is recovering from from his extensive surgery and is doing well enough to help around the International kids fund office. He told Andean Aid President Wayne Cramer that he is trying to adjust to his dramatic change in appearance. His mother Aydee is also adjusting to the looks of the "New Bladimir". Bladimir says that he has experienced no pain but does have some swelling and anticipates that the change in appearance will be even more evident as the swelling subsides. Dr. Gomez is considering several more surgeries. Continue checking this site for updates. We are excited about bringing Bladimir and his mother to the Andean Aid headquarters for a round of visits in the Illinois area.
August 28 Update
During the next surgery Dr. Gomez will perform the rebuilding of the eye socket and relocation of the right eye and perform the rebuilding of the right mandible (jaw bone) during the same session. Please keep this young man in prayer as he faces this ordeal.
Bladimir demonstrating the location of the new eye socket that will be crafted during the operation.
August 24 Update
Bladimir's transformation will continue in the next several weeks when operation number two takes place. This surgery is very complex . A new eye socket (orbit) will be constructed by Dr. Gomez and his team and the eye and optic nerve will be moved to the new location by a team of doctors from the eye institute.
July 13 Update
Bladimir is recovering well from his first surgery. He reports having no pain or discomfort which is amazing considering the extent of this operation. He is excited about the changes so far and says that he can breath correctly for the first time since his nose and nasal passages were adjusted.
Bladimir at International Kids Fund. Executive Director Maria Luisa Chao is at his right.
Ready and prepped for surgery June 28, 2007.
Immediately after surgery.
June 28 Update
Bladimir came out of surgery at approximately 5:00 PM. Doctor Gomez is very pleased with the results and plans the next surgery in five weeks. Please keep Bladimir and his mother in prayer as he recovers from surgery.
Bladimir's new life begins today. His first surgery will begin at 8:30 AM. This is an extensive surgery. The upper quadrant of his face will be reshaped and the right eye moved to a location level with the left eye. Dr. Gomez’s team will reshape the skull and create a new eye socket. A team from the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute will move the eye and optic nerve. This is the first of three surgeries. See the video at right of Dr. Gomez presenting the entire treatment plan.
Bladimir's first surgery is tentatively scheduled for June 28th. Please pray for this young man and the team of doctors that will perform this miracle for him.
Bladimir and his mother are settling into the Miami area. A van takes residents of The Ronald McDonald House to a local supermarket and there is some donated food at the house. A kind Colombian woman and her family are watching over them regularly. Tom Colandrea and his fiance Ivonne are also showing them some of Miami and getting them to church. Thank God for these people! Bladimir is even helping out at the International Kids Fund office.
Bladimir's transformation will be a testimony to thousands of people both here in the U.S. and in Venezuela to the power of God and how he can use us to change lives.
Bladimir participated in a press conference last Thursday that was presented in print media and television throughout the Miami area. He impressed me with his poise considering where he comes from. It has been said that God gave Bladimir and extra measure of terrific personality to compensate for his physical problems and I think this is true. Everyone that meets him and looks past the physical deformity likes him. Here are some links for the articles and video from the conference. Bladimir's first surgery should be performed sometime in the next three or four weeks.
Please remember, Andean Aid took a big step in faith that helping to bring Bladimir and his mother to the U.S. would not negatively impact our other ministries in Venezuela such as the Help and Hope Center, dental care and Christian counseling for families. Our outlay so far has been approximately $5,500.00. Won't you contribute today to ensure our other vital ministries continue?
It's said that a picture is worth a thousand words, so we have created a photo montage depicting Bladimir's Road to Miami... View Now
And, how many words is a movie worth? Check out the two movies below. Both are best seen with a broadband connection:
Dr. Gomez exam - 3.26 MB View Now
Dr. Gomez presents the treatment plan - 10.3 MB View Now
April 6, 2007
Bladimir and his mother are in Miami and settled in the Ronald McDonald House on the grounds of the University of Florida Medical Center. An update on his arrival, medical exam and planned treatment will be added tomorrow.
April 2, 2007
Tomorrow Bladimir and his mother leave for Medallin, Colombia where they will meet up with Tom Colandrea. This afternoon the children at the Help and Hope Center gave a going away party for him. This was sure to be an emotional time for all. The children and staff love Bladimir and though they are overjoyed at his good fortune to get the medical treatment he has been needing for years they will miss him greatly.
Pray for the success of this last leg of the trip. Andean Aid is incommunicado and not hear from this travel party again until Wayne Cramer meets them in Miami.
March 31, 2007
The visas and passports have been delivered from the embassy, the airline tickets have been purchased, and the multitude of documents have been completed and notarized Bladimir is on his way! Tom Colandrea flew to Medallin, Colombia today and will meet them on Tuesday. The months of anticipation are finally coming to completion.
Andean Aid President, Wayne Cramer, will be flying to Miami Wednesday to greet Bladimir and his mother Aydee and help get them settled into their strange surroundings. Stay tuned for photos and video of their arrival.
March 20, 2007
Bladimir and his mother, Aydee, received their visas yesterday to come to the United States for medical treatment. This a huge step that clears the way for their travel. Our goal is to have them in Miami April 4th.
March 19, 2007
This morning a group is Caracas on a critical mission. This is a mission one and a half years in the making for Andean Aid and fifteen years in the making for the boy at the center of the activity.
Bladimir Gomez Ramirez was born seventeen years ago in one of the poorest parts of Venezuela. At two years old his mother gave him away to a visiting lady. She was afraid the rash developing on his face could become something serious and she could not afford to care for him. The rash did indeed become something serious called fibrous dysplasia, a condition where bones in the face become porous and enlarged.
You can imagine Bladimir’s life as a young boy carrying this burden. He has endured several operations in Venezuela to treat the condition and nothing more can be done there.
In August of 2005 Andean Aid was asked if we could find some organization that could help him. We are not a medical mission but our mission is to Empower the Afflicted to Flourish and often we must overcome barriers to a child’s success. But this was huge. How could we possibly help? The answer came in the name of Tom Colandrea, an Andean Aid supporter who took Bladimir’s plight to heart. Tom asked me if he could pursue possible avenues of help and I was glad to have him on board.
Several organizations were contacted. Operation Smile was providing treatment right in Venezuela but they never responded to our requests. Samaritans Purse responded but could not help. In March 2006 Tom contacted the International Kids Fund in Miami, his hometown. While I was visiting Venezuela in April the International Kids Fund requested detailed information about Bladimir’s condition, which I was able to collect and bring home. Finally, in August we received word that the International Kids Fund had accepted Bladimir’s case. We were on top of the world - especially Bladimir.
Another setback occurred on January 18th. Bladimir’s guardian decided that she could not possibly spend five or six months in Miami while he was treated. It was decided to ask his natural mother, Aydee, who gave him up fifteen years earlier. She said yes but this decision carried with it several problems.
Aydee is Colombian living in Venezuela without legal status which means she cannot possibly fly out of Caracas. A decision was made to obtain the visas through the U.S. embassy in Caracas but the flight to Miami would be from Bogota. To make this easier Bladimir obtained dual citizenship status and he and Aydee obtained Colombian passports.
Tom Colandrea finished the daunting task of completing all of the documents for the visas and a required interview is scheduled Monday, March 19th. This is a crucial event and the last step in being granted a visa. I contacted a friend, from my days of working for an international Christian school in Caracas, who is putting this group up in his home Sunday evening and delivering them to the embassy well in time for the interview.
An attempt was made to obtain temporary legal status for Aydee so she could travel to Caracas without fear of being sent back to Colombia. This was not possible in time for the interview. So, the marching orders were to proceed to Caracas praying that God would continue to watch over Bladimir..
Bladimir’s mother is a very simple and poor woman. Coming to Miami will be a huge culture shock for her. We were concerned that she would get flustered during the interview in the embassy. The Consul General has given special permission for my friend and co-worker Gaby Andrade to be present during the interview. This is a tremendous blessing.
Our prayer is that all of the documentation is in order and that Bladimir and his mother leave the embassy with visas in hand. They will be in Miami shortly thereafter.
Andean Aid has guaranteed the U.S. government that it would cover all transportation, visa and passport costs for Bladimir and his mother. This was done by faith that our other ministries such as the Help and Hope Center would not suffer. If you would like to join us in this noble mission go to our Get Involved page to see how you can donate or click the Donate button below to contribute by credit card through Just Give.
Winston Churchill once said:
Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never - - in nothing, great or small, large or petty - - never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. And we might add, as Christians, to convictions laid upon your heart by the Holy Spirit.
|Won't you help us bring Bladimir to Miami for this critical treatment? Donate now through Just Give.|