Andrés was adopted from Bogotá, Colombia, when he was 21 months old, but that was the least astonishing part of his journey.
Katie and James expected a six-week trip to the South American country, but weeks turned into months, as a judges’ strike caused significant delays in legal matters, including adoptions. The tricky process lasted three months, but it was only the beginning…
“The adoption agency disclosed all of the medical needs they thought he had, but obviously they didn’t know everything,” Katie said.
After returning to the United States, Andrés’ health was monitored for quite a while—he was experiencing excessive thirst and urination, poor temperature regulation, and more. When a new doctor saw him…she said, “I think he needs a kidney transplant.” A trip to Mayo Clinic for a second opinion yielded the same result: Andrés needed a new kidney.
Andrés was placed on the deceased donor list in July 2022. It started a long wait for an acceptable match.
“The sitting and waiting was by far the worst part of the entire situation,” said Katie.
Andrés’ condition never required dialysis—which is common for a child with a failing kidney—and he was never limited in his activities. But as time passed, his symptoms persisted and intensified. His health and energy level decreased. There was nothing they could do.
And then it happened.
“We were all home when they called,” Katie said. “They said they had a kidney for our little boy. We cried and cried.”
Exactly one year after he was added to the transplant list, Andrés received his new kidney. He was hospitalized for only a few days, but he needed to stay in the Rochester area for four weeks. So, Katie and Andrés checked into the Ronald McDonald House.
“I volunteered at other Ronald McDonald Houses, so I knew all it had to offer,” said Katie. “And the House was exactly what we needed.”
Katie talked about the House Dinners and activities, while Andrés talked about playing in the Indoor Activity Room and on the playground in the Outdoor Plaza. She said, “it’s so easy to rest here,” and that the House has “every space we could ever need.”
“As strange as it is to say, staying at the House has been fun,” said Katie.
She also mentioned the plaques on the spaces—donors who support the House—and volunteers—difference-makers who are always cleaning and serving.
“That’s the thing about the House; people get it,” Katie said. “Parents are carrying such a heavy burden and it all adds up. The support system at the House is so important.”
“To be on the receiving end of so much generosity is truly humbling.”
The road is not clear for Andrés—it will be long and filled with medication, constant monitoring, and regular checkups. But it is a huge relief.
“It’s crazy to think about where Andrés was born; now he’s a transplant recipient and patient at the best hospital in the world,” said Katie. “If he wouldn’t have had access to this care, he wouldn’t be here today.”