publicidad
Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa arrived to the U.S. from Mexico at age 18.
Jorge Ramos
Opinión

Jorge Ramos, an Emmy Award-winning journalist, is a news anchor on Univision. Originally from Mexico and now based in Florida, Ramos is the author of several best-selling books. His latest is “Take a Stand: Lessons From Rebels.”

Dr. Q’s Hands

Dr. Q’s Hands

"Dr. Alfredo Quiñones is a living legend. At 49, he has performed some 2,500 brain surgeries. But the most riveting story is how he managed to become one of the world’s most talented neurosurgeons."

Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa arrived to the U.S. from Mexico at age 18.
Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa arrived to the U.S. from Mexico at age 18.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The brain is pulsating in front of me — I never imagined that the brain could pulsate as the heart does. It’s beige, almost light brown. Purple veins and arteries sprawl like a spider web.

I can’t turn my eyes away. If the soul exists, it resides here.

The brain is in plain sight. A little over an hour ago, the surgeon started the complicated procedure of shaving the patient’s head, cutting the skin and skull, and lifting the “dura mater” — a fitting name for a membrane that protects the brain in such motherly fashion.

A 2-inch square segment of bone was cut with a special saw and set aside like a Lego piece. I watch that brain and am amazed not only with the way the organ functions, but also with the doctors who opened up the patient’s skull.

What I get to see is extraordinary. Throughout the surgery, the patient is awake. He’s mildly sedated and given local anesthetics to eliminate pain, but he’s chatting with the doctors and answering their questions. Why is he awake? To be sure that the cuts of the scalpel in his brain won’t affect his speech, his memory, or any other function.

The patient, who we’ll call M, is a 29-year-old who had a brain tumor. He allowed me and my television crew to record the procedure. M put his faith and his brain in the hands of Dr. Alfredo Quiñones and the experts at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. I would have done the same.

Dr. Q is a living legend. At 49, he has performed some 2,500 brain surgeries. But the most riveting story is how he managed to become one of the world’s most talented neurosurgeons.

publicidad

Quiñones was an undocumented immigrant in the United States. Nothing has been easy for him. His sister died of colitis when she was 3. At age 5 he started working at a gas station his father owned in Mexicali, Baja California. The station eventually failed, and Quiñones, at age 19, decided to jump the border into the United States. He was caught and sent back the first time, but that same day he tried again and succeeded.

After that, he was a farmworker in California’s San Joaquin Valley, and then a welder for a railroad company. One family member had told him he would never escape from the fields. But Quiñones attended a community college to learn English, legalized his immigrant status and later was accepted at the University of California, Berkeley, not far from where he used to pick herbs, fruit and vegetables. Then he went to Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Q likes to say that the same hands that picked tomatoes now are saving lives. He’s not exaggerating.

On weekends he practices boxing, putting up those strong, steady hands that have been washed a million times. In an era when we highlight the things that set us apart, talking to a neurosurgeon is humbling. “We all look alike inside,” Dr. Q told me. No matter the skin color, country of origin or beliefs, the brain unifies us.

Through his Mission: BRAIN foundation, Dr. Q and his team make an annual pilgrimage to Guadalajara and Mexico City to operate on people who cannot afford to pay for operations.

Now Dr. Q has a new goal: to cure brain cancer. He showed me his laboratory, with all its state-of-the-art technology designed to learn how to stop cancer cells that migrate to other parts of the body. (When I learned about John McCain’s brain cancer, Dr. Q was the first person who came to mind.) And it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Dr. Q works with many immigrants just like him, from all around the globe. “We are going to change the world” is his favorite phrase, and he proves it with every surgery.

But let’s go back to the operating room.

M is still awake. With the aid of a powerful microscope, Dr. Q reaches the tumor — and it looks benign. The brain is supremely fragile. Dr. Q digs in it as if it were jelly, with what resembles an ice cream spoon.

The doctor stands up from the operating chair, walks around the table, grabs the patient’s hand and gives it a squeeze. “It’s all right,” Dr. Q says to M. “Everything’s all right.”

Meanwhile, the brain keeps pulsating.

publicidad
publicidad
Latino millennials account for almost half the 27.3 million eligible Latino voters in this election. But Latino turn out is traditionally far lower than black and Anglo voters. J.P. Dominguez asks “when are we going to wake up?”
A study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic policy found that undocumented immigrants pay $11.64 billion a year in state and local taxes. The undocumented pay on average 8% of their income on taxes while the wealthiest 1% pay only 5.4%. J.P Dominguez says that's "trumped up."
During the first presidential debate, the candidates took a chance to bring up each others past mistakes to affect their performance.
After the "Taco trucks on every corner" comment from the co-founder of Latinos for Trump, part of his immigration past emerged. This is JP Domínguez's take on the issue.
Donald Trump's wife and aspiring First Lady is an immigrant who says she always "went by the law" - but her story is a little 'SUS'.
La caravana que protege a unos 4,000 migrantes que regresan a México para celebrar la Navidad
Miles de mexicanos residentes en Estados Unidos se alistan a viajar para pasar la época decembrina con sus seres queridos en su país natal, pero no lo harán por cuenta propia sino en caravanas que serán protegidas por policías por tierra y aire.
El 'Panabus', solidaridad sobre ruedas para los más pobres en Venezuela
La unidad móvil, que recorre las calles de Caracas para brindar servicios básicos a personas en pobreza extrema, está equipada con duchas, consultorio médico y peluquería. Carlos De Veer, fundador del programa, asegura que esta iniciativa busca dignificar a los venezolanos como seres humanos.
La colombiana que decidió convertirse en periodista para investigar el asesinato de su padre
Diana López Zuleta tenía 10 años de edad cuando su padre Luis López Peralta, un aspirante a la alcaldía de Barrancas, fue asesinado. Por años, la joven reunió pruebas, habló con testigos y lo primero que obtuvo como respuesta fue que el rumor en La Guajira era cierto: 'Kiko' Gómez, un prominente político de la región, había ordenado la muerte de su padre.
publicidad
En fotos: ellas fingieron la enfermedad de sus hijos y les indujeron síntomas de las formas más retorcidas
Suena descabellado o contra natura, pero ocurre. Se trata del Síndrome de Munchausen por Poder, también conocido como Enfermedad Inducida por el Cuidador y es una forma grave de maltrato infantil. A continuación, algunos de los casos más emblemáticos.
Marihuana: de la guerra despiadada en América Latina al consumo legal en California
Hace 40 años defendimos la legalización de la marihuana en Colombia y el mundo nos miró feo. Hoy el consumo recreativo de la hierba es legal en siete estados de EEUU, y en enero se suma California.
Más de 500 personas sufrieron problemas gastrointestinales en dos cruceros de Royal Caribbean
En menos de un mes, dos barcos registraron enfermedades masivas de sus pasajeros. Se trata de un barco que salió de Florida hacia Jamaica y otro que fue de Singapur a Sidney, Australia.
Chile vota al sucesor de Michelle Bachelet en una disputada segunda vuelta
El expresidente conservador Sebastián Piñera y el periodista de izquierda Alejandro Guillier aspiran a suceder a Bachelet en la presidencia a partir del 11 de marzo. El balotaje está tan reñido que el grado de participación será clave para inclinar la blanza.
Edwin Cardona es una posibilidad para el América
El colombiano estaría en la órbita del América y estaría dispuesto a ceder jugadores con tal de tenerlo en sus filas.
Barcelona va en serio por Antoine Griezmann
Los culés ya han comenzado acercamientos con la familia del futbolista con la intención de que se cierre el traspaso.
Comenzaron los acercamientos entre Barcelona y Antoine Griezmann
El presidente del FC Barcelona, Josep Maria Bartomeu y la familia de Antoine Griezmann mantuvieron un primer contacto de cara a un posible traspaso.
Kareem Hunt guía a los Chiefs a una victoria clave sobre los Chargers
Kareem Hubt corrió para 145 yardas en la victoria de Kansas City sobre Los Angeles, para perfilarse al título divisional de la AFC Oeste.