Seven months after two-year-old Santos Bonilla was flown to the United States for treatment of his life-threatening burns, he returned to Costa Rica with doctors reporting a nearly complete recovery.
Bonilla, now 3, returned Saturday and is being cared for at the National Children’s Hospital in San José.
The burns that covered 86% of his body following a fire that ravaged his family’s south-central San José home June 28 were too serious for the Children’s Hospital, so Dr. Roberto Steele, who oversaw Bonilla’s treatment, brought his plight to the attention of the Shriners Club of Costa Rica, an international charitable organization that operates 22 Shriners Hospitals throughout North America to care for children with financial need.
With their own funding, as well as help from others – including generous Tico Times readers – the club arranged for Santos to be flown to the ShrinersHospital in Galveston, Texas for treatment, with no charge to his family.
Steele told The Tico Times that Bonilla is at the Children’s Hospital not for medical reasons, but because doctors and social workers are ensuring that his future living conditions at home with his family are adequate and will allow him to continue his recovery.
The doctor added that Bonilla, accompanied throughout his stay in Texas by his father, has now been reunited with his mother. The child will need to return to Galveston once every three months or so for further treatment.
At a Shriners Club banquet Jan. 14, held to thank various organizations that helped raise money for Santos’ care, The Tico Times was honored for its article by reporting intern Patsy Wilson (TT, July 15, 2005), which inspired readers to contribute funds toward the cause.