A young girl from Ecuador who sought an operation in the United States to correct a birth defect will soon have her wish, thanks to a Silver Spring social worker, the Washington-based Marriott Corp. and a Dallas surgeon.
The Marriott hotel chain plans to fly the girl, Marjory de Lourdes Vega Chavez, 10, from her home town of Santo Domingo de los Colorados in the mountains of north central Ecuador to Dallas, where a surgeon has volunteered to perform the operation without charge.
Marjory, her father and an aunt will be guests of Marriott, which will pay for lodging and hospital expenses as part of a public relations campaign to launch a new Dallas hotel.
The girl was scheduled to arrive in Dallas yesterday and will be guest of honor tomorrow at the grand opening of the new 500-room Dallas/Fort Worth hotel.
Marjory was born with a slight birth defect that affects her bowels; it has been impossible for her to attend school. Ecuadoran doctors tried once and failed to correct the problem. Marjory then focused her hopes on an American friend and Peace Corps worker she knew in Ecuador, Phyllis Yvonne Dodd, now a social worker in Silver Spring.
A story about Dodd's efforts to bring Marjory to Washington in the Sept. 8 Maryland Weekly attracted the attention of Marriott's special events manager, Charlotte Williams. The firm had sought such a project to help celebrate the hotel opening.
Dodd left for Dallas on Monday with a $1,000 check from Marriott to the family to pay for the medicine Marjory will need when she returns home. "I almost fainted when they called me," Dodd said, recalling her initial reaction at Marriott's offer.
"I can't believe this is all happening. I'm so excited; I can't wait to get down there. Everything is taken care of--it's really great. They the company really won all of our hearts."
Marriott has arranged for Marjory and her family to fly to Dallas free on both Ecuadorian Airlines and American Airlines. Dr. Ted Botteler, a specialist in correcting the type of defect Marjory has, will perform the surgery at Children's Medical Center in Dallas Nov. 8. While Marjory is recuperating, she and her family will stay with an Ecuadoran family in Dallas.
"Everybody here is very, very excited about it," said Wendy Petty, a spokeswoman for Marriott's public relations firm. "This is so much nicer than just having a traditional hotel opening."