By Jennifer Scroggins, assistant director of communications and advocacy
If the ReSurge volunteer surgical team that just returned from La Paz, Bolivia, had a mascot, it would definitely be Jenny Daniela. Six years old and full of curious energy, Jenny Daniela was admitted on our team's second day of surgery and was there with us for the remainder of the two-week trip.
When she was just seven months old, Jenny Daniela was tottering around the house in a little baby walker when she went into the kitchen and spotted a pot sitting on the stove. She reached up, managed to grab hold of the pot of boiling water and pulled it down onto herself, severely burning the right side of her body. She did not receive proper care for her burns, and as a result the burned skin on her elbow and knee contracted and created webs of skin, preventing her from fully straightening her arm and leg.
Now in the first grade, Jenny Daniela’s favorite subject in school is physical education, but her leg hurts her when she runs. She also makes sure to wear long sleeves and pants underneath her uniform because she is ashamed of her burn scar contractures. At such a young age, she is already self-conscious of her appearance and wishes she could wear the pretty dresses she sees other little girls wearing.
Jenny Daniela and her father, Orlando, traveled 13 hours on an overnight bus from their home in a town called Tarija to reach the hospital in La Paz on clinic day. When they arrived, Orlando said he wanted his daughter to have surgery to repair her contractures so she could feel better about herself and not be so restricted.
Dr. Jorge Terrazas, our medical partner in Bolivia, and volunteer surgeon Dr. Jonathan Rausky released the contractures on her arm and leg during the second day of surgery, and she remained at the hospital nearly two weeks to monitor her progress and regularly change her dressings.
Each morning when the team came into her room during rounds she greeted everyone with a huge smile and a laugh. We were all fascinated by this six-year-old’s courage and ability to entertain herself. She was never afraid of going in for surgery, and she had this remarkable ability to spend an entire morning giggling over a mirror with her dad or singing to us. She also loves coloring pictures of Jonathan with his curly mustache and commandeering my camera to take photos of us.
Jenny Daniela has since returned home to Tarija and will soon be back in school, once her leg becomes strong enough to walk on. When she grows up, Jenny Daniela wants to be a teacher. But with the photos she’s been taking on my camera, I wouldn’t be surprised if she becomes a photographer!