Written by: Dr. David Steflik, MD, Medical University of South Carolina

In choosing a career in medicine, we see families in their most trying times on a daily basis. A few times in a career we come across a family so inspiring as to help us remember why we practice medicine. The Garcia family is one of those families.

The medical journey of the Garcia family started when Jesus, their middle teenage son, presented for an elective aortic valve replacement. Unfortunately, Jesus had a stroke that left him with “Locked-In Syndrome.” This means that while still mentally aware, he was unable to move any part of his body other than his eyes, with little hope of regaining any functional movement. This was devastating news for the family, but throughout it all they never gave up hope.

During an interaction with Jesus, he stated he would like a better way to communicate. At the time, he was using blinking as a way of communication, a very cumbersome process that utilized a provider and alphabet board. A computer that utilizes eye movements to form words was discovered, but was very expensive, and the family had no means of purchasing one. This is when the Emerson Rose Heart Foundation was recommended to me. I explained  to them the situation, and I have never had the pleasure of interacting with a group more willing to help out another family. Almost immediately, the offer was there to obtain any device we may need to help Jesus communicate and after only about a week the device arrived.

This is one of countless examples of how the ERHF has aided families throughout the state of South Carolina during their most trying times. Without the ERHF® to provide means to obtain this equipment, Jesus would not have made it to the point he is today — at home, with his family surrounded by those he loves and with the ability to communicate his love. Throughout his trial, Jesus has demonstrated character and strength that can only be gleaned from his namesake and the love of a family.

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