At the "Nuevo Comienzo" Church in Warner Robins, which translates to New Beginnings, church members are hoping their donations will help one of their own have just that.
Pastor Ileana Whitehead is originally from Panama, and her nephew, 19-year old Armandito Creus Rodriguez has had a severe heart condition since birth, where his heart is misplaced and surrounded by blood.
Panamanian doctors told his parents there was nothing else they could do, aside from a costly operation that would have to be done in the United States, due to the limited access in Panama.
"They told me my son could die suddenly at any moment," says Irak Rodriguez, Armandito's mother.
Church members, including Evelyn Vicioso, a Spanish teacher at Westside High School in Macon worked to raise money, and awareness for heart conditions. Money allowed Armandito's family to make the trip and get the humanitarian visas needed for the procedure.
The brother of one of the church's parishioners in Michigan agreed to do the open heart surgery operation pro bono.
The costly trip was also Armandito's first to the United States, and while he was too ill to attend the church service while staying at his relatives' in Warner Robins, he said in Spanish that he thanked Middle Georgia's support.
Creus and his family will fly to Detroit Monday for the surgery. Even with the surgery, he still has slim chance, but his family says they believe their faith hasn't led them this far to fail.
The family is seeking help for Armandito's expenses. If you're interested in reaching out to his family, you can contact his aunt Ileana Whitehead at firstname.lastname@example.org
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