The following story appeared in the April 30 Idaho Catholic Register.
Luis Rodríguez is a member of the parish council at Presentation of the Lord Parish in American Falls. (Courtesy photo/Luis Rodríguez)
by Vero Gutierrez
AMERICAN FALLS – Life can change in an instant. Luis Rodríguez of American Falls knows this very well after he received a second chance at life thanks to the prayers of his family and the intercession of the Divine Child Jesus.
On July 25, 2011, when Luis was 20, he was invited to celebrate the birthday of one of his friends. After drinking a few glasses of wine, he took his friend’s motorcycle for a ride without permission and without a helmet.
He lost control on a curve and was thrown from the motorcycle on some rocks. The impact was catastrophic, damaging part of his brain and his face. Doctors were honest with his family, telling them that they did not know if Luis would survive.
Luis survived through six hours of surgery while his family did not stop praying.
During their prayer, a cousin of Luis approached the family to encourage them to ask for the intercession of the Divine Child Jesus. One of Luis’s brothers told God that he would take Luis to visit the Sanctuary of the Divine Child Jesus in Colombia if he survived the surgery.
Doctors had to remove the part of the brain that was bruised and would have to wait six months for the swelling in the brain to subside.
The optic nerve was damaged and the part of his face next to the nose and the eye was disfigured. Everyone supposed that Luis would lose his sight. Because his situation was delicate and his health fragile, doctors did not know if he could survive reconstructive surgery to his face.
Luis was intubated for several weeks. His mother and brothers stayed at his side in the hospital, praying every day with great devotion the Novena to the Divine Child Jesus, the rosary, and the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
Luis, had many friends and was well known in American Falls. Every day, people inquired about the status of his health and joined with his family in prayer.
The diagnosis was discouraging: Doctors said that if he did survive, he could lose his memory. Because his optic nerve was seriously damaged, he could lose his sight.
Two weeks after the accident, doctors began reconstructive surgery on his face. In September, more than two months after the accident, Luis was released from the hospital. However, part of the bone from his head was kept in a hospital freezer, until it was re-inserted in another surgery after the swelling in his brain subsided.
His early release was a pleasant surprise for doctors who believed he would be hospitalized for much longer.
"When I left the hospital, I felt extremely grateful to God and to my family,” Luis said.
“Before (the accident), when I went to Mass on Sundays, it was because my mother made me do it. Now, I go to Mass without being forced and with deep faith and gratitude to God.”
Doctors were also impressed that Luis did not lose his memory, but could remember everything.
When he left the hospital, doctors told the family to buy a large bottle of pain pills, because he would have a headache his entire life. They never had to open the bottle.
The doctors did an extraordinary job reconstructing his face. His eye works perfectly.
The doctor who witnessed Luis’ condition after the accident said his speedy recovery was nothing short of a miracle.
Within a year of the accident, Luis was able to return to work at Thresher Artisan Wheat. He is a member of the parish council of the Presentation of the Lord Parish in American Falls.
True to his promise, Luis’ older brother, Juan Gerardo, helped make it possible for Luis to make a 2017 pilgrimage to Bogotá, Colombia, to visit the Sanctuary of the Divine Child Jesus. He was accompanied by his pastor, Father Eladio Vieyra.
“It was a great experience, getting to know the Sanctuary because it is a very big and beautiful Church,” Luis said.
Each year, the Rodríguez family meets for a special Mass of gratitude to the Divine Child Jesus.
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