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Help With Saida's Treatment & Recovery

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For the last two and a half years, 8-year-old Saida has had a fast-growing tumor/cyst on her face obstructing her vision as well as her ability to breathe and swallow. Her parents prayed for a miracle because they had no access to healthcare. Little did Saida’s family know in May that two Edina Rotarians, who live 2,713 miles away, would help get her the life-saving treatments she was in desperate need of.

The first hurdle was determining the source of the tumor and affirming its benign status. A team of doctors performed the first surgery on July 1, 2021 to remove the tumor. There will likely be many more surgeries to reconstruct her face. Saida, who lives in a remote village (aldea) in the mountainous regions of Cobán, Guatemala, said after the surgery, “Now I breathe well.”

Rotarian and Past President of the Rotary Club of Escuintla, Rolando Morales said those words left him breathless. Morales has been the connection to Saida for Rotary Club of Edina members Susan Stiles and Josh Sprague, who met Saida in her little aldea when they were building and delivering water filters organized through the local Monastery to impoverished families on a Rotary service trip there this past May.

In a Facebook post about the trip, Sprague said they “encountered a young girl with a tumor the size of a grapefruit on her face, only surpassed by the size of her smile” and had to do something to help. Stiles and Sprague said together that they couldn’t leave this little girl behind.

The two connected with their friends Dr. Sofia Posadas de Menendez and Dr. Willy Menendez Nieves who said to bring her to the Escuintla Regional Public Hospital, where the two pediatric doctors oversee the hospital’s pediatric department – the largest in the region. After gaining the trust of Saida and her family, including her father, mother, and younger sister, the four joined Stiles and Sprague on the five-hour van ride from their aldea in northern Cobán to Escuintla on May 20, 2021.

Through Menendez and Nieves’ coordination efforts, and with the help of doctors in Guatemala City, Saida went through a series of examinations to determine the source of the tumor and treatment. Fortunately, the tumor was deemed to be benign, but Saida’s medical journey isn’t over yet. Once the swelling from her first surgery goes down, doctors will see what further surgeries she needs to reconstruct her face.

Stiles and Sprague are raising money to cover ancillary medical expenses, transportation, food and shelter, physical therapy, and education costs. Unfortunately, the Ronald McDonald House is closed due to the COVID pandemic. The Escuintla Rotarians have generously stepped up to provide the family with shelter and support during Saida’s treatments. They even donated blood the evening before her operation to ensure she had enough for her surgery.

This story is an amazing example of the power of Rotary and what can be accomplished when we work together as an international family. Saida has a long road ahead of her, but now she can finally breathe. Thank you for all your support.

-       Compiled by Kaylin Eidsness, Rotary Club of Edina Member











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Fundraising team (3)

Kaylin Eidsness
Minneapolis, MN
Susan Stiles
Josh Sprague
Team member

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