ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An 11-year-old Mexican boy who had portions of a massive tumor removed in New Mexico is living comfortably in an Albuquerque suburb with his family as he prepares for more treatment.
Jose Antonio Ramirez Serrano and his family are staying in a rented Rio Rancho home thanks to donations from church members, Kristean Alcocer of the First Baptist Church of Rio Rancho said Thursday.
Alcocer said members also helped the family with the purchase of a used van.
"The father was granted a one-year temporary work visa," Alcocer said. "He is thankful for the financial help he has thus far received but as he told Gov. Martinez, he wants to be able to provide for his family."
Last year, doctors at University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque removed a third of the boy's watermelon-sized tumor during the surgery.
In July 2012, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations assisted in picking up Jose and his parents from a neighborhood in Ciudad Juarez — one of the deadliest cities in the world because of drug cartels.
Federal agents helped the family seek care for Jose after First Baptist Church members saw him during a missionary visit.
After stories and images of the boy went viral, church officials reported a jump in donations to help him raise money for the surgeries.
While recovering in the intensive care unit, the boy got a visit from Gov. Susana Martinez. She has asked federal authorities to grant the boy and his family extended visas so he could receive treatment in Albuquerque.
Alcocer said the first surgery already has impacted his life in a powerful way.
"His old shirts are now too big for him," Alcocer said. "He is hopeful about his future and is ready to start riding the bicycle he got for Christmas."
Before the boy's father was granted a visa, his family traveled back and forth from Mexico to visit while the boy stayed with a staff member of the church.
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