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Guardian angel gives girl, 7, a new life

Seven-year-old Susana Abreu would have never gone to school and had little chance of a normal life in Jarrabacoa, a small town in the Dominican Republic, were it not for a “guardian angel” in Corona.
Local business owner Juan Romero, 38, who opened Cafe Rubio Restaurant in 1996, flew the little girl to Queens, arranged for her housing, food and transportation for three months, and then planned for her to receive two surgeries to correct a birth defect, preventing her from having normal bodily functions.
“Her life expectancy was somewhat questionable,” said Councilmember Hiram Monserrate, during a send off for the girl on Thursday, June 28. “Her body was deteriorating.”
Prior to having surgery, Abreu, whose body could not eliminate waste, had to wear a coloscopy bag. So, doctors at Stony Brook Hospital corrected the malformation and also repaired an underdeveloped heart valve, which had prevented doctors in the Dominican Republic from performing the surgery.
“The surgeries could not have been done where she was with the very limited resources that there are in the Dominican Republic,” Monserrate said. “The best thing that could have been done was for her to be brought here to the United States.”
When asked how much he spent for the Abreus’ travel and arrangements and how much the surgeries cost, Romero said only that the entire process was “quite costly.”
The girl’s mother, Margarita, thanked God that her daughter was able to get help and praised Romero, the Medical Mission to the Middle of the World, which paid for Susana’s surgeries, and Monserrate for their involvement.
Monserrate called Romero a “guardian angel” of sick kids needing surgery, and the pint-sized patient, who could barely see over a conference table, told the Corona restaurateur, “gracias.”
The following day, Abreu and her mother were scheduled to return home, where Susana was excited to meet her new classmates.
And, Romero had already begun work on his next case - helping to bring an 11-month-old girl to the United States for a surgery to repair a bad heart valve.
He asked that anyone wishing to contribute to the cause call the Medical Mission to the Middle of the World, a non-profit founded by a Jackson Heights-based plastic surgeon in 1999. Romero said that he got involved with the group about six years ago.
Each year the organization, led by founder Dr. Edwin Moreano, travels to Latin American countries like the Dominican Republic and Ecuador to provide free surgeries.
For more information about their work, call Moreano’s Jackson Heights office at 718-478-7787 or Cafe Rubio Restaurant at 718-505-4670.

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