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Support Flows in For Recovering Teen

People and businesses around Costa Rica took action this week to help Paulette Barrantes, a 17-year-old girl struggling to recover from a devastating bacterial infection that has kept her bed-ridden for nearly two years.

A fashion show Saturday at the Doce Lunas Hotel at the Pacific beach town of Jacó organized by Zolangie Zúñiga, a distant relative and constant ally to Paulette, raised ¢750,000 (approximately $1,455).

The funds raised were originally meant to purchase a special bed that would help Paulette recover. That bed, however, has been donated by the manufacturer Steo-Medical, Inc., thanks to efforts by Costa Rican Dr.Mario Tristan and Dr. Rae Schnuth, from MichiganStateUniversity, in the United States, Zuñiga said, adding that the money raised will now be used for further treatment for Paulette.

Paulette became sick in December 2004 with a rare and often fatal bacterial infection called Staphylococcal purpura fulminans that resulted in the loss of much of the skin on her body.While her arms and chest scarred, the skin on her lower body has never closed, and she has had all her toes and four fingers amputated and her Achilles heels removed. Doctors have all but given up, says Paulette’s mother, Jocelyn Villafranca, and her daughter now spends every day lying in bed, hoping her legs will heal (TT, Oct. 20).

Following an article in The Tico Times last week about Paulette and her fight to recover, Zúñiga said she has received phone calls from a hotel and store that wish to purchase jewelry, bags and other handicrafts that Paulette makes in her spare time. Zúñiga has also received phone calls from other readers wishing to help Paulette. For more information, call Zúñiga at 643-2510. Money can be donated to an account at Banco de Costa Rica in the name of Paulette’s mother, Jocelyn Villafranca, number 1416014.

Zúñiga said her husband is negotiating with pharmaceutical manufacturer Bayer in an attempt to get – either donated or at a reduced price – intravenous immune globulin (IVIG), which a leading researcher into the bacteria that caused Paulette’s infection said could help her recover. The medicine, however, costs $2,000 per treatment, he said, which is well beyond what Villafranca, a single mother of two daughters, can afford.



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