Remembering Elsi Marisol

elsiDear GB Family,

It is with great sadness that we share with you the news that our reference patient and sol, Elsi Marisol, passed away on Thursday, November 19.

Elsi Marisol, age 2, fell ill at the end of last year and was referred to Panama’s Children’s Hospital in January. She was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma (cancerous tumors in her liver) and began chemotherapy. Global Brigades Panama met Elsi in May when she came to a GB medical clinic in her home town of Aguas Frias, facilitated by brigaders from Rutgers University. Rutgers students and doctors took an interest in Elsi’s case, noting that without support she would not receive proper treatment. Her family lives about 4.5 hours from the city and is of extremely low income.

After the brigade, the Medical team made a house visit to Elsi’s family, and Elsi became an official referral patient. Medical/Dental programs are not designed for long-term care, but referral cases are one way we can continue care and support when possible (Community Health Workers are another). Referrals allow Global Brigades Medical/Dental programs to remain connected to patients and communities between clinics.

Since June, Global Brigades worked with Elsi’s family to cover medical and travel expenses and help her family navigate the complicated healthcare system. The brigaders from Rutgers who met Elsi in May were a huge part of this process, as were all other summer brigades to Panama.

Elsi had completed multiple rounds of chemo when her doctors determined that she needed a liver transplant – an extremely costly procedure that is not done in Panama for children. Global Brigades and our local partner organizations were working to arrange a surgery in Colombia, and in the meanwhile, Elsi continued with her treatment. At the end of last week, Elsi’s doctors changed her chemotherapy drugs in an attempt to combat the disease; unfortunately, the change was too harsh for her body.

The GB Panama team grew very close with Elsi, and while we are extremely saddened, we also recognize that she has been suffering greatly and she is now at peace.

Thank you to everyone who supported Elsi and her family through kind words, medical inquiries, and funds. We felt your love and greatly appreciate it. Our support —while small —was able to make the whole process a little more comfortable for Elsi and her family.

Global Brigades