The world knows very well the legend of the phoenix rising from the ashes and that is the case of young Panamanian Reynaldo Rivera Staff, affectionately called “El Rojo” by those close to him, who managed to survive a terrible car accident eight and a half years ago, which gave him 19 brain injuries and nearly 20 days in a coma.
Full of optimism and desire to live, “El Rojo” is a good example of the tenacity and fortitude of a person who does not allow himself to be intimidated by problems and, in spite of having been on the verge of death, today enjoys the present to the fullest, a time he considers the most important in a person’s life.
After 35 days hospitalization from the accident on August 12, 2012, he told CubaPLUS Magazine, I started different treatments of physical and psychological therapies. I could not walk, I also had serious speech and arm movement problems.
Seven months later, in March 2013, I arrived in Cuba to continue my recovery and was treated at the International Center for Neurological Restoration (CIREN), where physiotherapists Mercedes, Dunia and Ariel Lombillo, as well as Dr. Maykel López Pérez, at the head of the team that treated me, offered me great help and, shortly after, I was able to leave the wheelchair.
“My stay at CIREN represented a great stimulus for me, because there I was able to see people who suffered as much or more than me and were able to recover,” he said.
“I arrived in a wheelchair and left it instantly because Cuba has a magic, it transmits a tranquility that is not found anywhere else in the world,” he assured. “Cubans,” he specified, “have something that other peoples do not have: human solidarity. That, together with the kindness and respect with which specialists treat patients, whether at CIREN or at any other institution, is a great motivation for recovery.”
After his stay in Cuba for a little more than two months, he returned to his homeland, where he continued his recovery, especially with many exercises and rehabilitation treatments at the National Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
More than a year ago he returned to Cuba with his father, Reinaldo E. Rivera, current ambassador and consul general of Panama on the island, and can now walk, talk and move his arms with little difficulty.
Although “El Rojo”, so nicknamed because of the color of his hair, is not given to planning his future and prefers to live intensely in the present, he has a major project of great importance, because before the accident he had composed about 30 songs that he has been recovering little by little.
At this moment, he pointed out, “I already have 10 songs recorded and with the support and help of the Cuban musician and my most faithful friend, Mayito Rivera, we should produce a CD. So the fight continues,” he said.