San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Tica Singer Needs Help to Survive

After years of eyes following her figure on stage and ears swooning to her unique voice, Raquel Ramírez is now looking to those she once graced with her song to help her confront the financial mountain facing her, as she battles for her life against leukemia.

The noted Costa Rican mezzo-soprano is in the middle of her second bout with cancer, the first of which she overcame within the past year. This time, the disease has hit the singer much more forcefully, and her only hope is to collect $50,000 to pay for a bone marrow transplant, said Susana Trejos, a family friend and one of the organizers of the fundraising effort.

“They did the first treatment of chemotherapy, which apparently gave her great results,” Trejos said. “(The results) were good enough that in January she gave a concert in the National Theater, thanking everyone who donated blood and thanking life itself.”

But a few weeks later the illness struck again, and chemotherapy hasn’t had the same positive results. In April, the doctors said a bone marrow transplant would be necessary, Trejos said.

Because Costa Rica doesn’t have a bone marrow bank, and none of her family members are compatible matches, Ramírez was forced to look outside of the country for the expensive procedure. For the past three months, family, friends and fans have been trying to raise the needed funds.

“We’ve put on many beautiful activities,” said Amelia Barquero, the singer’s mother, who was herself a well-known soprano. “There has been a lot of effort, but few results.”

So far, only $12,000 has been collected, Barquero said.

According to Trejos, on a few of these occasions, there were more losses than gains.

Both Trejos and Barquero said they thought the recession had something to do with their inability to collect money quickly to address Ramírez’s ailments.

“We’ve done many activities, but it isn’t enough,” Trejos said.

To help the singer, whose voice Trejos described as “rare, strange and very valiant,” two Costa Rican bank accounts and one U.S. account have been created to receive donations.

For account details and information on how to help, visit or call Trejos at 2272-0468.


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