The average teen is thankful for having a cell phone, a computer and videogames. But 13-year-old Franklin Mejias is thankful for the prosthesis that allow him to walk.
Mejias , a Venezuelan boy who came to Miami with his family for vacation, was infected with a bacteria that almost took his life and caused him to lose his legs and all of his fingers.
The nightmare for this family started last year when Franklin had been enjoying a week of the beaches in Miami with his father of the same name, Franklin Mejias and his sister Frany Mejias. They had planned to go to Disney World in Orlando, but the night before the trip, Franklin had to be rushed to the hospital after high fevers, vomit and diarrhea. The boy has since undergone 12 surgeries that saved his life.
Franklin has been diagnosed with IRAK-4 deficiency, a deficiency that does not allow his immune system to produce enough cells to combat any infections or bacteria.
As the bacteria spread in Franklin’s body, his defense mechanism blocked its arteries and veins causing the body to swell. This is what caused the amputation of Franklin’s legs and all of his fingers. As the swelling went down, it left severe burns in his face, arms and legs.
“This is the hardest thing I’ve gone through in my life,” says his father, Franklin Mejias. “But this will be a life-long job.”
It has been tough for the family, but they have received a helping hand from the people they least expected.
Buenos Dias Miami con Claudia y David, a local radio program took it upon themselves to adopt the boy’s story and asked listeners for help. The community donated what they could, $1, $5 which turned into close to $5,000 thousand to help the family cover their necessities.
“I feel so thankful and I feel like a chosen kid,” says Franklin Mejias. “Out of so many people they could have chosen to help, they chose me.”
Various local Latino churches and foundations have helped, but the child’s recovery process is long and they continue to need the help.
“Helping him became my obligation as a human being,” says Xiomara Sanchez, the founder of the group. “I am a mother and something in my heart told me I had to help him.”
They have scheduled una cena bailable, or a dinner that will include live music and dance, for December 9th, as a way to help Mejias in his new stage of recovery.
“We are the group of angels that support Franklin,” says Sanchez. “I will not leave him until I am certain he will be good on his own.”
Mejias, after spending eight months in a wheelchair, is now learning to use his new legs to walk, run and play. He is looking forward to receiving prosthesis for his hands to continue doing the things he loves, like playing baseball and surfing.
He loves playing the drums, playing sports and is determined to continue fighting his recovery. He looks forward to the day when he can get prosthesis like the ones Oscar Pistorius used in the Olympics.
“I feel like a normal boy, the way I’ve been all my life,” says Mejias. “Little by little God continues to give me.”