Kaleb’s Journey

“At the Ronald McDonald House, we can be a family again,” said Shantia, RMHC Mom

During the day, Shantia returns to her apartment at the Ronald McDonald House. It’s the place she goes to after spending time with her son at the hospital to rest, shower, gather her thoughts, pray, and at times, cry.

“I don’t know how I would cope without the Ronald McDonald House,” said Shantia.

Two years ago, Shantia’s 12-year-old son, Kaleb, was diagnosed with the rare genetic disease, Short Telomere Syndrome. Due to its rarity, he was unable to get care at home in South Carolina. His mother was given the option of just a few hospitals for treatment. Following extensive research, Shantia and Kaleb’s physician agreed that Pittsburgh would be the best place for her son.

Needing a stem cell transplant, Kaleb’s twin brother, Kaden, was tested as a potential donor. During that process, it was discovered that Kaden had the same disease. Both boys now needed a stem cell transplant. Their sister, Loretta, would be their donor.

Kaleb was first to have the procedure. Initially he did very well, and then he developed pneumonia which depleted his t-cells. He was on a ventilator for 30 days.

Kaleb remains in the intensive care unit, needing another transplant. To build his strength for the second procedure, he gets occupational and physical therapy weekly. His therapists are focusing on walking and eating again. He also attends clinic weekly.

“They don’t want to put him through anything until he is strong enough to handle it,” said Shantia.

Shantia says that once Kaleb has his second transplant, Loretta will have to wait a period of time, and then will be able to donate to Kaden. Until then, Kaden will come to Pittsburgh to visit his mom and brother.

“I am so excited, we miss him so much,” said Shantia.

Shantia’s mom is also staying at the Ronald McDonald House with them. She has provided immense support for Shantia during this journey.

“At the Ronald McDonald House, we can be a family again,” said Shantia.

Shantia knows that there are months of care ahead for her boys. She also knows that she can count on the Ronald McDonald House to make the journey easier. She values the relief in knowing that at the Ronald McDonald House if you are hungry, there is food; if you are tired, you have your own bed; and if you need to talk, you always have a friend.

“I can’t explain how important and needed the Ronald McDonald House is for parents like me,” said Shantia.

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