Cuban Elian Lopez windsurfs to Florida in Search of Medical Treatment

Elian Lopez, a Cuban man seeking treatment for his colon cancer risked his life by navigating 90 miles aboard a wind surfboard before the U.S. Coast Guard intercepted him in the Florida Keys.

The 48-year-old has been identified by family in local news outlets as diving instructor Elian Lopez, who is undergoing treatment for colon cancer. He made the perilous journey across the Florida Straits on a wind surfboard, despite having a colostomy bag.

Elian Lopez, who reportedly began his journey from Cuba on Tuesday, was spotted by a Coast Guard patrol boat around 15 miles south of Islamorada on Wednesday in adverse conditions, with fierce currents and winds of 25mph.

Elian Lopen Cuban Windsurfer
Image courtesy of US Coast Guard

Unlike most of the migrants who are usually in ill-equipped crowded rafts, Lopez was wearing a life jacket, had a Global Positioning System and mobile phone, according to the Coast Guard.

“He had safety equipment that is very needed for when we’re locating people,” Coast Guard Petty Officer Martin McAdams said.

Rodriguez said she was very surprised by what he did. She said Elian Lopez had undergone treatment for colon cancer in Cuba and needed to continue treatment with medications that are not available in Cuba.

Now his family is pleading with the U.S. government to allow him to say, claiming that if he is sent back to Cuba, he will be left there to die.

We’re not asking for monetary help. We just want him to not be taken back to Cuba due to his medical condition,” said Rodriguez.

Elian Lopez’s family members have started a petition on to help prevent his deportation. For more information, click here.

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