Alyssa Milano interceded to save cancer-ridden Gonzalito Cartagena, asks community to help too


Alyssa Milano and her son, Milo. “She’s an angel who has helped so much,” says Gonzalito’s mother.

By Alyssa Milano

A couple months ago, my friend Nancy introduced me to the parents of a 4 year-old Peruvian boy named Gonzalito. Gonzalito has suffered from leukemia since he was two years old. His family received the news that their son could not be treated in Peru. His doctor recommended that he continue specialized treatment and undergo a bone marrow transplant, and that he be treated as soon as possible.

Gonzalito Cartagena, the Peruvian boy nicknamed by hospital nurses “Baby Doritos” because that’s all he wanted to eat when he arrived at St. Jude’s is undergoing treatment for leukemia. Actress Alyssa Milano helped get him in.

All that could be done for him in Peru was done. To save his life, his parents traveled to the United States (Louisiana) where a pediatrician friend offered to help them. Gonzalito was hospitalized at “Our Lady of the Lake,” and though they operated to change a catheter very close to his heart, proper medical care and a bone marrow transplant could not be carried out at that hospital.

His parents found out that treatment at a hospital in Houston would cost $700,000 and not the $100,000 that they had originally estimated. They struggled desperately to get this treatment at an affordable price to enable them to pay for their son to be alive.

“In Peru he can not be saved. I share the anguish as a mother I have and ask the community to open their hearts and send donations. Whatever the amount, [though it] may be small, if we all support, we can save him… Gonzalito is a small child who has not even begun to live,” said his distraught mother.

After receiving an email from Gonzalito’s parents, I hoped he might be accepted at St. Jude, and I inquired directly with the organization that evening. By midday on the following day, I received an answer:

“I’m very happy to tell you that Gonzalito is currently a St. Jude patient being treated at our affiliate clinic in Baton Rouge, LA. As is the case for any St. Jude patient treated at one of our affiliate hospitals, the family will not pay anything for the treatment provided. Treatment plans are developed in consultation with physicians at St. Jude in Memphis, TN. If a child in treatment at an affiliated hospital requires services only available at our Memphis campus, the child will be transferred to St. Jude in Memphis.”

As I considered the incredible news, I thought of my own child, Milo. I would do absolutely anything for him. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital provides immense relief to parents and children from everywhere, who go through harrowing situations no one should have to endure.

For Milo’s first birthday, all I wish is that St. Jude can continue to provide this invaluable service for children…and for their parents who, without a doubt, would do absolutely anything for them.

Thank you for helping to make Milo’s birthday special, in honor of our friend, Gonzalito.

Contribute to St. Jude’s in the name of Gonzalito. 

Our gratitude to all who have contributed to Gonzalito’s fund. A special recognition to Nancy Medina, the Peruvian who connected the Cartagena’s with Alyssa Milano, as well as to the groups Peruvian American Medical Society and Peruvians in Southern California and their leader, Milagros Lizarraga.

Read more about Gonzalito (Spanish story with links to other donation options)



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