Every parent will tell you it's sad when their young child gets sick. Most, thankfully, will never have to experience the heartbreak that comes when doctors can't seem to figure out what is wrong.

Josiah's mother described him as a happy healthy baby until he became ill with what the doctor in Trinidad classified as a severe cold and flu. He was given Vitamin C and medicine and the doctor said he would be better in a week. The medicine was taken but the symptoms were not improving so the doctor prescribed stronger medication, but Josiah didn't get better. Soon the young boy started developing mouth sores and swelling in his gums. The doctor reevaluated him and decided he was suffering with a type of hepatitis infection. Those treatments didn't work either and he started running fevers.

Josiah was then admitted to the private hospital in Trinidad. He had developed a stomach infection which might have been from all of the antibiotics he was taking. After one week he was discharged, but his condition hadn't gotten any better.

The doctor then dropped a bombshell on the family. He told them it wasn’t looking good—he said he thought it was cancer. The boy's mother Zuren said, " “I was so worried. He stopped eating and drinking—he was getting smaller every day. He cried until he fell asleep, but he couldn’t sleep well because he was in so much pain—we had to feed him PediaSure with a syringe to the back of his throat and use rags soaked with cold water to try and soothe the pain of the ulcers in his mouth."

The children’s hospital said there was nothing else they could do, so Zuren and her husband traveled across the country to see more doctors.

I can't imagine the fear and frustration that his parents were feeling.

The couple then took their boy across the country to a different hospital and were told Josiah might be neutropenic. This is a condition in which the person has too few neutrophils—the most abundant type of white blood cell—making those affected more susceptible to bacterial infections. The hospital wasn't able to confirm the diagnosis because they lacked the proper equipment. The family was urged to travel to the United States for additional testing and treatment.

That’s how Josiah and his family ended up at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

According the the Ronald McDonald House: "Their initial visit to Rochester lasted one month—their first experience with winter conditions—but they didn’t stay at the Ronald McDonald House of Rochester, Minnesota. Because they didn’t know it existed. Instead, the family rented a room in the building across the street from the House. “I watched families come and go every day,” said Zuren. “I started dreaming—and praying—about staying at the House.”

Mayo doctors prescribed a steroid to the young boy and his condition improved. He was a happy, healthy boy once again and his family returned home thinking their nightmare was over.  Unfortunately, it wasn't. As soon as the medication was gone the illness returned.

Mayo Clinic asked the family to return for additional testing but they were out of money. “I did not know how we would survive,” Zuren said. “We did not have any funds. But my husband said the Ronald McDonald House welcomes children and families who do not have money. We called as soon as we were in Rochester.” The family was on the waiting list for nearly two weeks before they received the call for a room.

Additional tests revealed the boy's body develops antibodies that fight his white blood cells; they die when they reach his blood. Mayo Doctors believe Josiah will need medication for the rest of his life. Josiah is doing much better now with the medicine and it's unclear if the family will ever need to return to Rochester.

Zuren said, "I will never forget the Ronald McDonald House of Rochester—it will always have a special place in my heart. It is a place I will support for the rest of my life.”

Hug your babies and be thankful that we're in a great city with wonderful organizations like the Ronald McDonald House and the Mayo Clinic.

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