Meet the Gonzalez Family
Six month old Carter Gonzalez was born in central Florida with an extremely rare liver condition called biliary atresia. As a newborn his blood samples showed doctors that something wasn’t quite right. After a surgery at 5 weeks old failed, Carter’s parents, Luis and Danielle, were referred to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston because of their transplant unit. Carter was going to need a new liver.
Making the seven hour drive to Atlanta for doctors’ appointments wasn’t easy. Carter is naturally irritable and his disease causes his skin to itch constantly, and his enlarged liver and spleen cause him pain. Carter also has Rickets Disease, causing his bones to be easily broken. He has fractured his wrist and several ribs during his short lifetime. Every hour of the trip the family must stop to take him out of the car seat. But these trips didn’t last long: Carter wasn’t gaining enough weight while in Florida. In order to be eligible for a transplant he needed to gain several pounds, but he was having trouble getting the nutrients he needed to grow. In March of this year, his doctors at Children’s recommended that Carter get a 24 hour pic line. This meant Carter would need daily care from his medical team and the family would need to stay locally in Atlanta.
Luis, Danielle, and Carter have been staying at the Ronald McDonald House near Egleston since March 2016. Danielle says, “Staying at the Ronald McDonald House has been wonderful. The people that work here are great. They are very helpful. The donors that come cook us meals are so caring.” Her husband Luis added, “It is a blessing to be in this House. Compared to trying to live out of a hotel room and struggle financially with that.” When asked about what Carter likes about the House, his parents say, “Carter really likes walking around outside the House. He likes looking up at the trees from the pathway and going up to the garden.”
After almost 5 weeks in the Ronald McDonald House, Carter’s father Luis says, “Being this close to the hospital has allowed him to be monitored very closely. Since coming here Carter has gained two pounds, which was a struggle back home. The physicians at Children’s have made a big difference in getting him where he needs to be for transplant.” Carter has been able to grow and become eligible for a transplant because of the care he received. Staying at the House has allowed the Gonzalez family to stay close to each other during Carter’s treatment.
Carter is now eligible for a new liver, and it is time to wait but staying at the House a little while longer isn’t necessarily a bad thing. According to his parents, the more he grows before his transplant, the greater likelihood he will have of a successful surgery.
After Carter receives his new liver, the family will move into the transplant wing at the Ronald McDonald House until he is healthy enough to return home. The Ronald McDonald House is happy to help keep the Gonzalez family close as Carter awaits his new liver.