Dariel Leon’s son is turning five years old next Sunday, an achievement that wouldn’t have been possible without the help of MEMO Cuba.
Medical Equipment Modernization Opportunity Cuba is a local charitable organization that sends redundant or out-of-date medical equipment to the Cuban province Villa Clara.
In the past eight years, the organization has sent 46 40-foot ocean containers loaded with hospital beds, wheelchairs, x-ray machines, laboratory equipment and other medical supplies to the island nation.
If it wasn’t for the fetal monitors MEMO shipped to Cuba, Leon’s son may not be alive today.
Leon, who will be sharing his story at a MEMO fundraiser dinner Friday evening at the Airlane Hotel and Conference Centre, said before his son was born he and his wife had gone through a difficult time. His wife had miscarried one year earlier.
“It was time for her to have the baby but there were no labour contractions at that time. We went to the hospital. She was admitted and they started to monitor her through a fetal monitor provided by MEMO,” Leon said.
“They realized the monitor had recorded something disturbing. They had to take her to the labour room immediately. They were able to save my son’s life,” he said.
“I always asked myself those days what would have happened had MEMO not provided those fetal monitors?”
While Leon will speak Friday evening about the equipment and help still needed in Cuba and share similar stories to his own, his main message is one of gratitude.
“The reason I’m here is because we need resources, but most of all because I’m thankful and I want to say thanks,” he said.
Leon has worked as an interpreter and liaison for MEMO in Cuba the past eight years and MEMO president Jerome Harvey said they wanted to bring Leon to Thunder Bay to speak and give a Cuban perspective.
“He can speak with some truthfulness about what it really means,” he said.
Harvey said the organization has sent around $30 million worth of medical equipment to Villa Clara.
“Instead of going to a scrap yard or a landfill, we send it to Cuba, as long as it’s in good condition and working,” Harvey said, adding that Villa Clara’s minister of health told him about four years ago that the province’s health care had taken an 180 degree turn for the better since MEMO began sending supplies.
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