Family mounts campaign to fly disabled brother out of Puerto Rico

- Inside the Iversons' quaint Robbinsdale, Minn. home, you’ll find a family enduring heartache, but keeping their faith.

After nine agonizing days, Jaz and her husband Andy finally made contact with family in Puerto Rico. Ever since, they’ve done everything they can to get Jaz’ severely disabled brother, Macho Marrero, back to the mainland.

“He's a living miracle, he really is," Jaz said. "When he was first born they said he wouldn't live past three years, and he's 31. So that in itself is a miracle."

It was in 1986, and with only $40 in their pockets Jaz’ parents moved to Connecticut, where they sought the best medical care they could for Macho.

“When you have a kid who’s sick you do anything you can to get the best medicine for him,” Jaz said.

Macho suffers from severe spinal bifida, seizures, sleep apnea and other serious health complications. After more than 20 surgeries, a tracheotomy and countless hospital stays, his parents decided to head back to the island–where most of Jaz’ family lives.

“Finally my brother was stable enough and they decided it was time to go home,” Jaz said.

That was 12 years ago. Jaz’ parents rebuilt their lives in Aibonito, Puerto Rico. They put everything they earned on the mainland into their gorgeous island home--and, of course, caring for Macho. But Hurricane Maria robbed them of their dreams. The roof of their home is gone and their belongings have been destroyed.

Beyond that, Macho’s oxygen and medical supplies are ruined. He is also without his speech aid.

“Within the mess of the storm they lost it, so he’s not able to talk unless he’s covering that little hole,” Jaz said of her brother’s tracheotomy.

“But then you’re at risk for infection,” Andy added.

His heartrending concern for Macho compelled him to launch the Help Keep Macho Safe GoFundMe page to get Macho and his in-laws to Minnesota.

“When we get them here again, they probably won't even have $40 in their pockets," he said. "So I'm sure it's heartbreaking for him."

Jaz and Andy say the National Guard won’t fly Macho out until he’s in critical condition, and a commercial flight would take at least three weeks to secure. A doctor with the National Guard, they say, warned that Macho needs to be off the island. Unwilling to gamble with a loved one’s life, their hope is to get Macho and his caretakers on a charter flight as soon as possible.

“Just to know they're safe and my brother's not worrying about whether or not he's going to make it through the night it'd just be the world to me honestly," Jaz said, tearing up. "Keep Puerto Rico in prayer just because I know it's not just my family that's suffering it's a lot of people out there."

The couple also needs a portable oxygen concentrator. It’s the device Macho needs to fly safely on the charter. And they hope to book that flight tomorrow. To help Macho click here.

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