“God picks some kids to show that they are powerful.”
Karenth Sanchez and her family live in Lima, Peru. Caleb, age four, came into the world after an emergency c-section and a birth Karenth describes as traumatic; she had never been in a hospital before. The day after, when she and her husband met their son, they learned that he had club foot and would need treatment to correct his legs and feet. The casting procedures that followed were challenging for the family. Caleb was uncomfortable and did not sleep. Karenth began to research club foot treatment and realized there was a discrepancy between their experiences and best practice. Their doctor explained that the standard was different where they lived and told the family “at some point you have to realize that our son is not perfect.”
Caleb’s parents knew that answer was not good enough. They were determined to give Caleb the best chance possible to have his feet corrected and refused to quit until they were able to give him that opportunity. The family was touched by the support given to them by their church. As is common in Peru, the church held a festival to fundraise, with friends making and selling food to pay for health care costs, and also offered prayers and comfort. Karenth explains that “A lot of people helped us, even people I didn’t know.” And, after a few years, Caleb’s feet began to turn in the right direction and the doctor told them he was doing well.
One day, however, Caleb was walking and he suddenly fell. The falls continued and though his parents did not want to believe it, they knew something was not right. When at age three, Caleb began complaining that his feet hurt and asked his parents to carry him; Karenth realized his feet were not in the right position. The doctors in Peru wanted to perform surgery but Karenth and Paul knew it was time to try something else. Her research told her that Caleb’s best chance for a normal life was the Ponsetti Institute at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. She also knew that this would be a huge feat to accomplish.
Once again, the family was supported by their church as well as other churches in the United States as they faced obstacles to paying for travel and medical treatment. The final piece of the puzzle fell into place when Karenth found out about the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois. She was surprised that the resources at the House were provided free of charge, including everything from a van that would give her and Caleb a ride to the hospital for treatment to meals every night. Every time Karenth would begin to worry about something, the answer would appear.
Karenth and Caleb arrived in Iowa City in January 2018. It was a lot for Caleb and Karenth to absorb, but the House provided them with a safe and welcoming place to call home for the four months they stayed in Iowa City for treatment. When he first arrived, Caleb could not walk and was in a wheelchair the majority of his time. However, with casting and physical therapy, he went home on his own two feet, running like every other 4 year old boy. On one of his last days at the Ronald McDonald House, Caleb spent 3 hours playing on the playground at the House, thrilled to be able to climb, slide, jump, and run.
Karenth describes the House as a gift, noting that even the little things are thought through. Karenth and Paul are beyond thankful for all the people that helped their family. They feel blessed for their family because of RMHC-EIWI, the doctors, the churches and everyone else that took care of them during that time.