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Young Cuban Patient Gets a Taste of Southern Hospitality

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CHAPEL HILL — After overcoming medical and political hurdles, a family from Cuba has reason to celebrate. A boy came to North Carolina to get help for a rare blood disease and just found out he will not need surgery to get well.

Raudel Alfonso, 7, is having no problem mastering America's favorite pastime with his new friend Ned Walsh.

Despite having a rare blood disease, Alfonso feels good thanks to doctors who are treating him at UNC Hospitals.

"I feel very good to be here. Things are so pretty in this country. People have been so nice to me and have helped me so much," said Alfonso.

Alfonso and his mother, Idalmis Garcia, came to the United States from Cuba last month for his medical treatment.

"I'd like to thank the people of North Carolina for the love they have extended to my family. I realized this trip would not have been possible if it had not been for the help we received," said Garcia.

Their trip was made possible in large part by Walsh, a Johnston County humanitarian who learned of the boy's condition while working in Cuba.

"To see this child now with a very bright future is sufficient satisfaction for everything I've done," said Walsh.

When Alfonso returns to Cuba, he will have many stories and gifts to share with his friends.

"I'm going to lend them my toys so we can play together," said Alfonso.

It is the spirit of people pulling together that has made Alfonso's recovery a reality.

Doctors at UNC say Alfonso will probably need about three more weeks of treatment before returning to Cuba. They expect him to be able to live a normal life.

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Amanda Lamb, Reporter
Rick Armstrong, Photographer
John Clark, Web Editor

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