Former GR Spanish radio host battles COVID-19 complications abroad

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A man who previously ran a Spanish-language radio station in Grand Rapids is fighting complications from kidney failure and COVID-19 in Mexico.

La Mejor GR is a typical radio station, with microphones, audio mixers and a custom backdrop. Chuy Morales, a fixture on local Spanish-language radio since the early 2000s, started the internet radio station in 2013 in a trailer.

“The trailer was only $1 when we found it at the time,” Morales’ son, Israel Morales, said. “Thought it was a blessing from God and with very little money we were able to get a used monitor, used PC.”

Chuy Morales’ vision for the station was more than just being on the radio. He wanted to make an impact in the community. 

“Once he saw growth, he started organizing events for the community,” his son said. “Events like Santa in the City, which is a toy drive.”

While Chuy Morales’ station grew in popularity, his health deteriorated. He became diabetic and then began to have kidney failure. 

“About two years ago, my dad was very sick, couldn’t get out of bed, he was pale,” his son said. “People were asking if he wasn’t if he wasn’t with the radio anymore.”

Due to financial constraints, Chuy Morales went back home to Veracruz, Mexico, to seek treatment. Israel visited his dad about a month and a half ago, after getting word that Chuy Morales’s condition worsened. His dad was having seizures and drifting in and out of consciousness. 

A courtesy photo of Chuy Morales in the hospital.

“Recently, after some X-rays and tests they did on him, they believe he has pulmonary fibrosis, a condition that deteriorates the lungs,” Israel Morales said.

He said doctors notified the family that COVID-19 was the reason why his lungs were failing. 

“They did some tests, found some COVID in his body,” he said. “They think that he must have had it before and it’s now taking effect because there were bacteria in his lungs. They think that bacteria were caused by COVID, because the amount of COVID antigen in his body.”

Throughout the family’s ordeal, local community members have stepped up with fundraising events. A family friend has set up a GoFundMe account for the Moraleses to help with medical expenses. 

“It’s a lot of money. It’s in the hundreds of thousands (dollars) now,” Israel Morales said of the medical bills his family must pay. “We’ve sold a lot of our belongings in Mexico, basically everything we had over there.”

On a positive note, Israel Morales said his dad is currently breathing more on his own than he had been recently. However, he added that it’s a fluid situation. 

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