Edwin Lainez's tiny chest heaves up and down as the 2-year-old fights for life in a Cleveland Clinic hospital room full of machines.
"He's a tough little boy," Dr. Brian Duncan says as he and fellow cardiologist Dr. Russell Raymond check his progress.
Edwin is the 20th child from Honduras since 1999 to receive heart surgery at Cleveland Clinic with the help of the Raymond Foundation, which Russell and several brothers established. (See sidebar, next page.)
"I think of all these little kids—and really all my patients—as [if I am] looking into the eyes of Jesus and 'doing unto the least of these,' " says Russell. "All of my brothers feel the same way."
Edwin's mother, Patricia, holds her child all night.
"I pray all the time. I have faith that he's going to get better," she says with a smile. However, she says that if God chooses to take Edwin, he will be in a better place.
Patricia leaves for only a couple of hours, just long enough to shower at the nearby Ronald McDonald House and return.
The family comes from the village of Las Mercedes, Atlantida, where they live in a mud house without electricity or indoor plumbing. When Edwin was 15 months old, he began vomiting and running a fever. His mother carried her baby to the hospital, a three-hour walk.
Edwin's family was put in touch with the Raymond Foundation, which secured passports and paid for airline tickets and everything she and Edwin needed to come to Cleveland for the surgery. Her husband, Jos?, was to join her later.
"I can't describe how grateful I am," Edwin's mother says. "I am so thankful."
Each year, with the help of the Honduras-based Ruth Paz Foundation, four or five children are chosen to receive heart surgery at much-reduced fees. They are identified during an annual mission trip, funded by the Salvation Army USA Eastern Territory, that the Raymond family makes to Honduras, where they run a health clinic, among other projects.
The mission trips have contributed to the startup of a new Salvation Army church, the San Pedro Sula Corps, in the area; funds and supplies are sent there for each year's mission.
"The need is extreme," Dr. Duncan says. "These are patients who just don't have any resources. Having a child with congenital heart disease, even if you live in a place with immediate access to world-class care, that's bad enough. If you live in an area that's remote from any medical care, it's just awful.
"I don't think any of this would be possible without the support of The Salvation Army."
Editor's note: Edwin, who almost wasn't accepted for surgery because his condition was so severe, didn't make it. "It was a heroic effort, but just didn't work out as we had hoped," Dr. Russell Raymond said. Contributions to the Raymond Foundation can be sent to Dr. Russell E. Raymond, 592 Williamsburg Drive, Highland Heights, OH 44143.