Michael’s Story

Michael before Surgery

Michael before Surgery

 Living in Houston we often take for granted that doctors and surgeons at our Medical Center change lives every single day.  Michael Soto of Guatamala is a happy, active 14 year old thanks to plastic surgeons and volunteers from Baylor College of Medicine and our medical community here in Houston. 
Photos of Micheal and the volunteers who helped him:  http://picasaweb.google.com/krismarsack/MichaelSotoEarReconstruction?authkey=PUGIyzQbM88#

About a year ago, Michael was kidnapped and held for ransome by brutal and violent men in Guatamala.  The kidnappers first demanded 3 million in Guatamalan currency.  Michael’s parents are farmers and didn’t have that kind of money or access to it.  As a result the kidnappers wanted to show they meant business and began cutting Michael’s ears off over a 2 day period.  They would leave pieces of his ears in different parts of this hometown for his parents and police to find.  While the discoveries of the pieces of  Micheal were horribly disturbing to his parents, the thought of never seeing him again was worse.

While Micheal was with these brutal animals, as they were cutting off his ears they told him if he screamed they would kill him.  So as he was being disfigured  he was silent, just praying to see his family again. 


The Soto family eventually negotiated with the terrorist, took out a loan and paid them the equivelent of  8,000 US dollars.  Although physically and emotionally wounded, Micheal was released by his captors.
Dr. Larry Hollier of Baylor College of Medicine heard about Michael’s case and knew he could help.  While the boy’s real ears are gone forever, he now has the second best thing.
Dr. Hollier and his team first took what was left of Micheal’s ears off and implanted metal screws into his bone for the new ears to attach to.  Once those healed he was fitted with a fleshy feeling silicone ear.  To create those ears, they took a mold of Micheal’s father’s ears and reproduced them.  The prostetic ears don’t affect his hearing at all.   
Micheal’s happy ending couldn’t have happened without the hard works of several volunteers like Dr. Hollier, Surgical Volunteers International, Dr. Yoav Kaufman, Dr. Art Armenta (translator), Kris Marsak, The doctor’s surgury center provided the OR, Dr. Joe Edmonds (The ENT Surgeon), Dr. Steve Cook (The pediatrician that first saw him) and Tom Flood (the SVI trip coordinator).  
Some wonderful news to report about Michael’s story, his kidnappers have been caught.  They were captured while attempting to kidnap another little girl and threatening to mutilate her. 
Since getting his new ears, Micheal’s parents say their son has become more confident and social, his life is finally getting back to normal.

One Response

  1. Thank God that Michael is safe. None of us can even begin to imagine what he went through during his captivity. Thankfully, Dr. Hollier and his team at Baylor (as well as many other plastic and reconstructive surgeons around the country), perform services such as the one you mentioned – helping disfigured children and adults get back on track – at least physically. We can hope and pray that the emotional support is also in place for their recovery. It certainly makes one realize how trivial most concerns and worries really are…

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