Baby Sebastian getting a checkup at the ASELSI Clinic

The baby boy was only 20 days old, but he was so weak and dehydrated that doctors said he probably had less than two days to live.

That was the prognosis of Dr. Veni Gupta when he visited Sebastian Nehemías. The little baby only weighed four pounds and his skin was limp and saggy over his tiny frame.

Dr. Veni along with a team of medical personnel from the University of Missouri and a doctor from Pennsylvania, were holding a rural clinic in the village of Xeabáj outside of Chichicastenango. They had come to help ASELSI provide four days of medical care in rural Guatemala.

At first Sebastian’s family was reluctant to do anything more than care for little Sebastian at home. Perhaps it was because they didn’t have the money to get care, or maybe because they didn’t trust the hospital where he was born, or a little of both. Whatever the reason, the team could only encourage them to get care for their little one and show that they really cared about him. Then the team prayed for this tiny life.

The next day, they saw an answer to those prayers--both parents arrived at the clinic site with little Sebastian wrapped in blankets.

He had lived through the night, and these new parents were willing to give him a chance, so they brought him for some help.

As Dr. Veni examined the baby, he was so weak, he didn’t even cry.  Little Sebastian was worse than the day before.

“He was not responsive,” Dr. Veni said. “He was just lying there, not crying.”

He was too weak to nurse or even suck on a bottle even though liquid was the thing he needed so desperately.

With no way to give an I.V. or the options that a modern hospital might offer, Dr. Veni turned to what was at hand. He moistened his gloved finger and dipped it in a packet of sugar from the snack table. He put the sugar in Sebastian’s mouth and waited. It took about 10 minutes, but the sugar that Sebastian’s weak body absorbed gave him enough energy to latch onto a bottle that they offered him, and he began to drink.

“I felt like it was a miracle,” said Dr. Veni.

The team was elated and had hope that he could recover. They gave his parents an antibiotic, bottles, and formula and invited them to come to the ASELSI clinic for a checkup.

This group of 17 team members cared for 270 patients in the village of Xeabáj and helped many receive loving medical care that is rare to find in these mountains.

A couple of days later, the team was back at the ASELSI clinic in Chichicastenango on their last day of clinics. A handful of patients had trickled in the gate when the team gathered outside the clinic building.  Baby Sebastian was not among them.

As the team talked and prepared to say goodbye to part of the group, more patients arrived. Then a rustling went through the team.

The baby was here!

One could see the excitement in Dr. Veni as he and others checked over Sebastian and expressed how much better he was already looking. 

He had gained about 150 grams and he was responding like a normal baby.

“He looked much better,” Dr. Veni said.

As he was examined, Sebastian was crying and moving as Dr. Veni checked him over. He looked much better and was even able to nurse from his mother.

“I expect him to have a full life.” Dr. Veni said. “He is a perfectly healthy baby now.”

The team was leaving the next day, but Sebastian will be part of the ASELSI milk program where he will get monthly checkups and receive the nutrition he needs to get a great start on life.

This week little Sebastian was passing a pivotal moment that is key to his life, but he was not the only one.

Dr. Veni admitted that after years of schooling, medical training and preparing for his career, he was tired of training and wanted to get on with his life, have a family of his own, and do what he was trained for. However, he still has three years to complete the specialization that he wants in the medical field of neonatology.

“I didn’t think I had energy to do it,” he said of those three more years.

Seeing how Sebastian’s life was saved through his medical care changed something in Dr. Veni.

“This was the committing moment for me,” he said. “I am committed to going through that training. Saving one life is worth it.”



Today, Sebastian was back at ASELSI with his mother. He looks great. He is interactive, has a healthy glow about him and has gained weight. He's now up to 12 pounds 6 ounces.

Baby Sebastian and his mother


ASELSI’s Father’s Heart Clinic treats thousands of patients including babies like Sebastian. This clinic is available through the generous donations of individuals and organizations like you. Please consider helping ASELSI help more babies like Sebastian by giving a donation or becoming a monthly donor with ASELSI.