UPDATE 4/27/2019: A Puerto Rican motorcycle group in Jacksonville called “Los Dueños de la Calle” reached out to Action News Jax reporter Lorena Inclan after seeing this story on Action News Jax, to tell her that on Saturday they delivered Dashan Ortiz a wheelchair. The group also working on organizing a benefit ride for Ortiz.
Original Story: Hurricane Maria left one local family with no choice but to pack up and move to give their son a chance at a more normal life.
Dashan Ortiz, 17, was once an athletic teen but now a mysterious illness has left him bedridden.
A friend of the family reached out to Action News Jax Lorena Inclan after hitting road blocks in trying to find a custom wheelchair for him.
Dashan has minimal control of his right arm and head. The rest of his body is paralyzed.
It’s not how his mom, Radoishka Perez, is used to seeing her son, who’s one of five siblings.
It wasn’t that long ago he was jumping hurdles at his school in Puerto Rico.
Perez said it all started last November with a headache.
“As the days go by the headache got worse and then he gets a fever,” said Perez.
His health quickly deteriorated to the point where he fell into a coma for more than 50 days.
Initially doctors thought it was meningoencephalitis, an inflammation of the brain usually caused by an infection, but Perez said doctors are not sure.
Hurricane Maria made it more difficult for the family to get the treatment they needed so they decided to move to Jacksonville to see a specialist at Wolfson Children’s Hospital.
“It’s the day to day, the hours go by and you say, ‘how?’ and you don’t want to lose strength,” said Perez.
Through it all, Dashan has received a lot of encouragement. Above his bed in his small room, are letters from his classmates in Puerto Rico and right next to the letters is a picture of the character Aslan, from "The Chronicles of Narnia." The story is one of Dashan’s favorites. The character has a biblical reference to Jesus Christ and it reminds Dashan to never give up.
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“To achieve my goal of becoming a doctor, an oncologist, because it’s what I like. I want to be me again,” said Dashan.
Dashan is 6 feet 1 inch tall. His mom said they’ve struggled in finding a suitable wheelchair for him.
He also has ulcers all over his body, meaning they go through boxes of bandages every day.
“I want to give him a better quality of life and take him out of these four walls,” said Perez.
Perez said she wants to know what’s wrong with her son.
She’s now urging others to be vigilant of their kids’ symptoms, no matter how small they may seem.
If you’d like to help this family you can reach out to Lorena Inclan on Facebook and she can put you in touch with them.
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