Countywide : Step Closer to Fulfilling His Dream


With his feet covered in a pair of white socks boasting an American flag, Miguel Angel Chuc Ortiz eagerly hobbled inside a hospital room recently while waiting to undergo a magnetic resonance image scan.

The 16-year-old Guatemalan was born with his right foot turned inward and back underneath his leg.

Miguel arrived in Orange County last week from his home in Samayac, Suchitepequez, about four hours from Guatemala City, for reconstructive surgery on his clubfoot.


To undergo the 45-minute MRI scan at the Irvine Medical Center, Miguel had to take off his black high-top sneakers, the only pair of shoes he can wear.

The imposing, high-tech, tube-shaped machine--which produces photographic images of his foot to prepare him for surgery--did not scare Miguel.

It would fulfill a dream, he said, to correct his foot so he can walk barefoot, run and play soccer.

He said he wants his foot to be “pretty”--to be normal, like his left foot.

Speaking through a hospital translator, Miguel said: “I want my (foot) to be perfect. . . . I can’t do what my friends do . . . run around and play soccer.”

Miguel said he is grateful to be able to come here for surgery because “this country has the best doctors and technology.”

Dr. Victor V. Cachia, a podiatric surgeon who spearheaded the youth’s treatment here and will perform the three-hour reconstructive surgery Monday, said: “The goal is to make (Miguel’s foot) straight, with the bottom of the foot flat on the floor.”


Cachia and two other doctors, anesthesiologist Dr. Jay J. Rindenau and pediatrician Dr. Annu Sharma, are donating their services.

Irvine Medical Center is offering the use of the facility at no charge.

Dr. Nicholas C. Salvati, a San Clemente dentist, is also donating dental care.

Cachia said Miguel, who may need a second operation and will stay here for about three months, is unable to get the treatment he needs in his own country.

“He has no access to health care,” the doctor said.

Donna H. Groh, Irvine Medical Center vice president and chief operating officer, said it is not unusual for the hospital to support doctors who perform charitable work by donating the costs of treatment and care.

En El Inc., a charitable organization established by the bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, N.Y., paid Miguel’s air fare, executive director Mary McNif said.

Last October, the organization sponsored a medical mission to treat the needy and poor in Solola, Guatemala.

The doctors, which included Cachia and Rindenau, performed foot surgery on children and cataract surgery on adults.


The son of a cowboy and a homemaker, Miguel, who is the youngest of seven children, was among the 90 children examined. He was found to have a minor infection in his foot.

“There wasn’t enough time to do the operation because of the infection,” Cachia said. “The kid was devastated because he thought it was the only opportunity to have this deformity corrected.”

But Cachia and Rindenau did not forget Miguel, who said he hopes to learn English while he is here and plans to go to college to make a better life for himself.

“We realized that if we don’t operate now, the kid will never have a shot to walk normal,” Rindenau said.

The doctors believe the surgery will change Miguel’s life.

“This young man has everything going for him, except he has an untreated deformity in his foot,” Cachia said.

“By fixing this, it will allow him to enter into adulthood as a normal young man.”

Said Miguel: “I don’t know how to say thank you for what everybody is doing for me . . . for (making) my dream.”