I found Kevin in a dusty village in Guatemala. The home where he and his 8 family members live is nothing but a dirt floor and pieces of tin, sticks and tarps that make up his roof and walls.
At first glance, from a distance, you might think that he is just a chubby toddler, but as you get closer you realize something is terribly wrong. The cancer that is eating up his body has caused his kidneys to shut down and it has been more than a week since he has been able to produce more than a few drops of urine. He is severely bloated from head to toe.
I rubbed my hand on his leg and felt the pressure of the fluid building up in his body. It felt like the a balloon when you squeeze it … ready to pop at any moment. His limbs were stiff, unable to bend. His loving sister held him and tried to comfort his obvious discomfort and crying.
Back home, this child would have been admitted to a hospital long ago and the fluid would have been drained from his body. But here, local doctors have given up saying there is nothing that can be done. Instead, they want to operate and amputate his leg at the hip – a painful operation that may not even change his condition.
As I stood in his home, I couldn’t help but wonder – have we arrived to late? Can this child be saved? Are we simply going to have to watch him die?
I’m now sitting on the plane headed back home to my family and children – but my mind keeps drifting back to a little boy who is not even my own, but who has touched my heart.
The truth is I don’t know what will happen to Kevin. It is possible that the only thing we can offer him is a comfortable passing. Sometimes you can’t wrap stories up in a pretty packages with happy endings. The reality of life is much to harsh for that.
Sometimes all you can do for hope and pray for a miracle.