Lily’s Legacy (Part I)

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Katie Castro (right) meets with Angel MedFlight’s Jessica Merwin in Bemus Point, N.Y.

By Angel MedFlight Contributor

Katie Castro wrote a short note to Angel MedFlight. In it she said, “Thank you so much for your help. We’re in tears with gratitude.” Katie had given birth two weeks earlier to a darling little girl, Lily. While all prenatal tests and scans revealed no problems, Lily was born with spina bifida and was experiencing other complications. She came into this world in Honduras and doctors at the hospital told the parents that Lily needed a higher level of care and would likely live only one more week unless she was flown to a more advanced facility. A call came into Angel MedFlight Worldwide Air Ambulance and the wheels were set in motion to try to save little Lily.

Last month, Jessica Merwin, a flight coordinator at Angel MedFlight, was invited up to Katie Castro’s hometown of Jamestown, N.Y., to meet Katie’s family and dearest friends. Merwin stayed at the historic Hotel Lenhart  in Bemus Point overlooking the Chautauqua Lake. During her visit, Merwin sat with Katie on the stately manor’s veranda.  The two sipped cold drinks, rocked back and forth in the multicolored rocking chairs and enjoyed the slight breeze coming off Bemus Bay. They talked about Lily and the friendship that has developed between them. It’s a bond that originated from that first call to Angel MedFlight — a call from a family friend to get Lily on a neonatal flight to Houston, where she’d get that necessary higher level of care at Texas Children’s Hospital.

Lily Castro was born in the same hospital in Tegucigalpa that her older sister was born in a year and a-half earlier. The birth of Katie’s first daughter went smoothly so she didn’t think twice about having her next daughter delivered there.

Katie met her husband Javier Castro years earlier in Honduras while the two worked on a church mission. Merwin says the two “had dedicated their lives to working with the Honduran youth, to get them to avoid drug-running, joining the gangs and trying to give them other options.” Merwin says the Castros had to befriend many of the gangs in order to gain access to the neighborhoods. “The reason the gangs were fine with them coming in was because most of those gang member had siblings they didn’t want to be in that life,  so they were fine with them going into help,” says Merwin. The Castros passed people carrying AK-47s on a daily basis. Javier talked of one day having to dodge gunfire between gangs.

While only days old, little Lily Castro was suffering from health problems many don’t experience in a lifetime. While she lay in the hospital in the Honduran capital city, her condition worsened. She had suffered seizures.

Back at Angel MedFlight, Merwin had to act fast to get Lily on an air ambulance to Houston. Unfortunately, there were many obstacles ahead.

(To be continued)

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