A race against time

Juan Landeros hopes to donate part of his liver to his

– Juan Landeros’ plan to get in better shape by running
regularly almost bit him in the … well, butt, last weekend.
GILROY – Juan Landeros’ plan to get in better shape by running regularly almost bit him in the … well, butt, last weekend.

During a jog in Christmas Hill Park Saturday, Landeros was bitten on the behind by a dog that had gotten loose from its owner. Since the wound was minor, most people in most instances could look back on the incident with a chuckle.

For the Landeros family, the matter triggered a six-day search for the owner of the dog ultimately resulting in a collective sigh of relief.

The matter was grave because Landeros is the proud father of a sick little girl, 3-year-old Analisa Landeros who needs her dad to be as healthy as possible. Sometime between now and the next few years, she will need a part of her father’s liver to replace her scarred and damaged one.

Landeros thought he had just gotten scratched by the dog until he went home and changed, so he didn’t bother to ask the owner if the dog had been vaccinated for rabies. Had the dog not been given the proper vaccine, Landeros would have undergone treatment for rabies, potentially making him an inadequate donor.

“I just lost the 20 pounds I was trying to lose for the past four months,” Landeros said. “It was a pretty long process, and it almost backfired on me.”

It didn’t backfire, thanks to a bright orange sign Juan’s wife, Tina Landeros, posted at the trail head in Christmas Hill Park and an unidentified caller.

Around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Juan Landeros got a call on his cell phone from a young girl responding to the sign that explained the urgency in finding the dog owner and gave a description of her, her dogs and her car. The girl told Landeros that a vehicle fitting the description of the dog owner’s navy blue Volvo wagon was parked at Christmas Hill.

Landeros called his wife, who immediately left her 10th Street home and headed for the park to find the lady.

“Fortunately, I got there in time,” Tina Landeros said. “The lady seemed a little offended at first and taken back, but she was cooperative.”

The dog owner later produced documentation of her dog’s vaccines, ending just the latest chapter in what has been a three-year saga for the Landeros family.

“We still have a long road ahead,” Tina Landeros said Thursday watching Analisa.

She may walk and play like most children her age, but Analisa Landeros does it attached to an oxygen tank and an intravenous food pump. The medical equipment counteracts two afflictions doctors have yet to explain – the inability of her lungs to receive sufficient oxygen and allergic reactions to a vast array of foods including milk and soy.

“She’s been hooked up to all of this pretty much since birth, so she’s really good about not pulling out her chords. She even knows how to put her nose plugs back in when they fall out,” Tina Landeros said. “It is heartbreaking to watch her wheel (the food pump) around.”

Analisa’s complications started when she was born, exactly three years ago this coming Saturday. The 4-pound and two-months premature little girl was born with a cyst in her small intestine. Doctors removed the cyst, but medication Analisa had to take caused cirrhosis of the liver.

“The doctor told us it’s not a matter of if, but when. She’ll need a new liver. It could be a few months or a few years from now,” Juan Landeros said.

Although Analisa needs physical and speech therapy to ensure normal development of her gross motor skills, she is hardly a wallflower.

“She’s actually a little bit hyperactive. She doesn’t even take naps,” Tina Landeros said.

Cognitively, Analisa’s development is like most other 3-year-olds, and she is on track to enter pre-school in another year. But until doctors know what is wrong with her lungs, she must remain on an oxygen tank so her blood-oxygen level doesn’t go dangerously low and damage other organs in her delicate body.

As if their daughter’s medical problems weren’t taxing enough, Juan and Tina Landeros also are in the midst of relocating from Arizona to Gilroy. Tina, Analisa and the Landeros’ 8-month-old Ashley live with Juan’s parents in Gilroy now. Juan, who works for Intel, is still in Gilbert, Ariz., a suburb outside Phoenix.

Tina and Juan were born and raised in the Bay Area. Both have extended families in Gilroy and San Jose.

“We moved back because we need that family support,” Tina Landeros said.

The 29-year-old mom is not discouraged by her daughter’s health problems. In fact, she is inspired by them.

“I’ve wanted to be a nurse since I was 18,” Landeros said. “Now after being in the hospital environment so much, I know I can be one. I think I’d be a really good one.”

At some point, Landeros said, she will get a nursing degree.

“We used to be in a doctor’s office as much as once a week, but as (Analisa) gets older it’s been tapering off,” Landeros said. “I don’t know exactly when I’ll have the time (to pursue a nursing career), but it will happen.”

For information regarding an ongoing fund-raising campaign for Analisa, visit www.cota.org and use the “Patient Campaign” link. Analisa will need, for the remainder of her life, anti-rejection medication after her liver is replaced. All donations will go toward that and other future medical expenses.