F. Marie Hall Institute of Rural Health
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The Aida Porras Story

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You can measure the TTUHSC Telemedicine program using a yardstick, and at the 1-inch mark you can place Aida Porras and her parents, Maria and Manuel Porras.

During a recent meeting with the family, Maria Porras relayed her memories of the events that occurred two decades prior. In 1991 a 19 year old Maria was 9 months pregnant and sitting at a ballgame when twinges of pain set in. This being her first pregnancy, she was not sure what to expect, but was convinced by a friend to allow her labor to happen on its own. Aida PorrasOnce at Big Bend Regional Medical Center, a caesarian section was performed and upon evaluation the baby appeared to be in respiratory distress. Manuel told her that something is wrong with their baby and that they were going to have to fly her to Odessa. Fortunately, Manuel had two sisters living there and could meet the flight to be with little Aida. Maria wouldn’t be released for two more days. Aida spent a week in Odessa before being released.

As part of a telemedicine research project, Big Bend Regional Medical Center was equipped with telemedicine technology that linked the rural hospital to Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock in 1990. The project was to determine if telemedicine could be used as a way for patients living in rural communities to see their doctor for follow-up visits after being discharged from the hospital. However, before the first follow-up patient could be seen, Dr. James Luecke delivered Aida and determined she was having respiratory issues. Dr. Luecke knew that there was a link to TTUHSC and was quick to ask for assistance and a local neonatologist helped get Aida stabilized before her flight to Odessa.

Since that time Aida has had no residual complications resulting from her initial respiratory issues. The family moved to Presidio where Aida grew up. Maria went on to earn her teaching degree at Sul Ross State University and is currently teaching in Presidio. Manuel works in construction and cared for Aida while Maria was in school.

Nowadays, Aida is a very beautiful, bright, sweet, and witty young lady living and working in Alpine. As a kinesiology and physical therapy student at Sul Ross State University with aspirations of becoming a physical therapist.

You would also be hard pressed to find someone her age more compassionate. When Aida turned 18 she worked as a dispatcher in Marfa for first responders. She took great interest in the events her job. The same holds true for a retail job she held in 2011. During a visit with Aida and her parents in April 2011, wildfires plagued the Alpine area. Many people were forced to leave their homes without being able to pack their personal belongings. The day of the visit, Aida reported a couple of people coming in to their store looking to replace lost clothing. Aida was instrumental in arranging deep discounts for those people, and also worked to establish an angel tree for others who would need assistance.

I assured Aida that her knack for outreach would serve her well in any career she chose.