Bridgeport residents rally around Brazilian man suffering from ‘suicide disease’

A journey that began in Brazil years ago has now brought a 28-year-old man and his wife to the Free Methodist Church in Bridgeport, where they say a holiday miracle is taking place.

Frank Recchia and Robyn Karashik

Nov 27, 2023, 5:37 PM

Updated 235 days ago

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A journey that began in Brazil years ago has now brought a 28-year-old man and his wife to the Free Methodist Church in Bridgeport, where they say a holiday miracle is taking place.
The couple is from Brazil where Rafel Azevedo has been all over the news due to a rare neurological condition he suffers from -- tympanic plexus neuralgia -- otherwise known as "the suicide disease" due to the untreatable pain it causes.
Luana Tormin, married to Azevedo, has been fighting by his side to find more suitable treatment.
"I'm doing everything that I can to save my husband's life,” said Tormin.
The aspiring airline pilot has since put his life on hold and traveled all the way from South America to have surgery in Connecticut. Azevedo and his family first arrived in the U.S. two months ago in hopes that surgeons there could properly treat him and give him some sense of relief, as he was unable to get his country to pay for the $76,000 surgery.
The family sat down with News 12 Connecticut’s Frank Recchia in Plainville on Sunday along with parishioners from the church.
"He feels the worst pain a human being can feel and he [doesn't] give up,” said Tormin. "We are screaming for help. Things need to change.”
"The pain is so intense, obviously the person wants to take his own life, so Rafael needs support [throughout] the day. He can never be alone. We have nowhere else to go,” said Santos. “The only place in the world for the treatment is here."
That's the message Azevedo and his family brought the United Nations back in September about the case. They were invited to speak about the need for the world to do a better job at helping people like him who are suffering from diseases so rare there's little incentive to cure them.
The good news is that surgeons at UConn Health in Farmington will be operating on him this Friday in an effort to cure his condition.
Azevedo also spoke about the emotional and financial support from Bridgeport churchgoers and others across Connecticut. They have even created a GoFundMe to help Azevedo and his family cover the cost of operation, which they say is not covered by insurance -- $20,484 of the $65,000 goal has been raised so far.
"People are helping to save Rafael's life," said Tormin. “He makes us believe in impossible things -- so it's beautiful.”


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