VOL. 111 | NO. 210 | Friday, November 7, 1997
By SUZANNE THOMPSON
A fighting chance
Peruvian-born businessman risked everything
for the opportunity to save his sons life
By SUZANNE THOMPSON
The Daily News
Fernando Bazo is a fighter.
He said no matter what life throws at him now, it can only be brighter than the hell he endured as his family fought for the life of his son, Gonzalo.
In 1991, Bazo and his family lived in Lima, Peru, where Bazo was born. Bazo owned and operated Ferbag S.A., a three-fold import/export business, when his 8-month-old son was diagnosed with the most virulent form of leukemia.
Told that Gonzalo had only three months to live, Bazo began looking for South American physicians who might be able to offer his son treatment or a possible cure.
Bazo searched in Chile, Argentina and Brazil, until he found a Brazilian doctor who said he could perform the bone marrow transplant Gonzalo desperately needed.
The Brazilian doctor wanted a $250,000 cash payment before he would perform the procedure.
Then, a friend of Bazos found an article in Readers Digest about St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital and its work treating children with cancer.
The next day Bazo called the American Embassy in Peru to be put in contact with St. Jude, and a week later, he brought 1-year-old Gonzalo to Memphis.
When it became apparent treatments for Gonzalo were to be ongoing, Bazo made the decision to bring his family to Memphis. Bazo would spent a week or 10 days in Memphis and fly back to Lima for three months to attend to his companys business.
"I was the engine in my company," he said.
After more than two years of that rigorous travel schedule, Bazo and his wife, Lourdes, decided it was no way to raise a family.
Bazo said he knew the only thing he could do was sell his Peruvian business and come to live in America with the rest of his family.
Because profits for his company had declined steadily as his absences increased, Bazo sold the companys three parts individually. Once he converted the currency to American dollars, there was not much left.
At that time, Bazo and his family were living in a hospitality house, and Gonzalos condition remain unchanged. Still, Bazo was committed to keeping his family together and solidifying the familys strength in the face of Gonzalos uncertain future.
"If we have to eat stones or grass, we will eat it together," Bazo told his wife.
Although Bazo served as director/manager of the Peruvian Nuclear Institute while in Peru, he was unable to find work in his field in America without the proper type of visa.
He applied for a Spanish-speaking position with a chemical company on Presidents Island but didnt get the job because he didnt have the proper immigration documents. However, his interviewer went with him to the immigration office to help steer Bazo, who spoke little English at the time, through the process.
It is a process which took nearly two years to complete, during which Bazo worked odd jobs and did whatever he could to make ends meet.
On Dec. 9, 1995, Gonzalo died. But already having severed most of his ties with his home country, Bazo decided to keep his family here.
Bazo is now business development manager for Tenax Enterprises Inc., a company owned by Richard Huxtable. Huxtable also owns Huxtable Electric Inc.
Bazo said he could not say enough about Huxtable and the opportunity Huxtable gave him. Back on top of his game, Bazo, a born salesman, said business at Tenax is booming.
Tenax markets Lotoxane, a European-made alternative for chloroflourocarbons, for use in a variety of chemical-based products.
"Right now, the market is wide open in the U.S.," Bazo said with a broad smile.
Bazo said in addition to his work schedule, he is a soccer coach for the Memphis Home School Association.
"Im trying to do always something with the kids," said Bazo, whose 10-year-old daughter, Maria, plays soccer.
The Bazos have a new addition to their family, 11-month-old Nicole. Bazo said no matter what happens next in his life, he already has been to the basement of existence during the ordeal with Gonzalo, so the only way to go is up.
"Every day I thank God. I never knew how good things could be," Bazo said.
name: Fernando L. Bazo
date of birth: Sept. 23, 1957
place of birth: Lima, Peru
marital status: married, 12 years, wife, Lourdes
children: Maria, 10, and Nicole, 11 months
hobbies: Reading, dancing, listening to jazz music