OPERATION KIDS LIFE SAVING OPERATIONS: ALEJANDRO GUTIERREZ

 

In March 2000, the NPDF was informed by Fr. Brian Jordan, a Franciscan monk who later gained notoriety as the Chaplain at Ground Zero, about the plight of seven-year-old Alejandro Gutierrez who was born with congenital heart defects. According to medical documents, Alejandro needed two open heart surgeries in order to correct his heart defects. So, the NPDF traveled to Bogota, Columbia and on March 26, 2000 convinced the American Consulate at Bogota to issue an emergency medical visa for the first operation.

The NPDF transported Alejandro and his mother to the United States where he was successfully operated on at the Deborah Heart & Lung Hospital in Brown Mills, New Jersey and later returned them to Columbia on April 18, 2000. In June 2000, the NPDF returned to Bogota to apply for another non-immigrant visa so Alejandro could undergo his second operation that was scheduled for June 26, 2000.

During that trip, there had been substantial publicity about two US Police Officials coming to Columbia to perform this humanitarian mission. The State Department cautioned the NPDF not to travel to Columbia due to increased terrorist activities by the guerillas. In fact, on the day of the scheduled press conference in Bogota, Guerrillas bombed two police stations in Bogota which killed dozens of police officers. Both Fr. Jordan and the NPDF were forced to cancel the press conference in fear that we could have been killed or kidnapped by the guerrillas. Fortunately, Fr. Jordan and the NPDF departed Bogota without incident and transported Alejandro and his mother to the United States where he successfully underwent the second operation and was promptly returned to Columbia.

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